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As a swirling wind howled over the soft stuffed teddy bears left in the memoryof an 18-month old toddler who was shot dead just the day before, a gatheringof roughly 30 people participated in a candle light vigil just shy of sunseton Tuesday, March 27.
Representing a variety of ages and genders. They converged on the same cornerat 94th Street and Wadsworth Ave., in Southeast Los Angeles, heads bowed, heavyclothed and deeply saddened at yet another gang-related shooting death thathas once again rocked the Black community.
Los Angeles City Council-woman Jan Perry outraged at the murder, posted a$75,000 reward for the person or persons responsible for the shooting. On Friday,March 30 Perry plans on filing a motion with the Los Angeles County Supervisorsto increase the reward to $100,000.
“If it takes $100,000 to make people turn in the person who shot thislittle baby, so be it,” Perry said.
As television cameras and news reporters combed the crowd for clues, the motherof the slain child, Rebekah Harris, was nowhere to be found having returnedto her home in Victorville, according to family members.
Harris, 20, was driving the vehicle that carried her daughter and her four-year-oldnephew on the night of the shooting, reportedly to drop off a male friend.The male friend identified as 25-year-old Hollis Roberts was outside of thevehicle when a tan or brown Oldsmobile Cutlass with tinted windows eased alongsideand the occupants fired an estimated 10 shots, striking Roberts several timesand piercing the toddler through the jaw. Both were rushed to the hospital.The male who was the target of the shooting according to police survived, butthe toddler whose name is Qristyonn Augustine died. Neither Harris nor the4-year-old was hurt.
A great aunt Leeann Augustine was one of three relatives who attended thevigil, which was hastily arranged to bring attention to the tragic shootingof the toddler.
Leeann pointed to the location where her great niece had died and when askedwhy the mother brought her to the location that day, she solemnly answered, “Idon’t know.”
“I was told that she was dropping off a friend and that’s all I know,” shesaid. Leanne also stated that she had informed other relatives as far as Louisianaand they would be arriving to the Southland soon to mourn their great loss.
Gwendolyn Murphy, 41, is the grandmother of the slain toddler and the motherof Christopher Augustine, the 21-year-old father of the child. The father iscurrently incarcerated according to Murphy.
She said that he has been informed of the death of his daughter and has takenthe loss tremendously.
“He said all he wants is his daughter, but I cannot give that back tohim,” explained Murphy.
The grandmother said that she last saw the toddler alive about a month anda half ago and discovered that she was killed while watching the televisionnews. “I didn’t realize that it was my granddaughter and then afamily member called and told me.”
Funeral services were pending at press time.