A 12-year-old boy has died and a 14-year-old girl is hospitalized after being shot last night in Long Beach, according to authorities.
Police say the boy, the girl, and another 13-year-old girl were walking on the sidewalk in the 2200 block of Lewis Avenue at around 11:30 p.m. Tuesday when they were approached by a vehicle containing at least two male suspects.
That’s when an unknown number of suspects in the car shot at the three children and fled the scene, police said.
The 14-year-old girl was shot in the lower body during the drive-by but is expected to survive, police said. The 13-year-old girl was not struck by gunfire, police said.
Police identified the 12-year-old boy as Long Beach resident Eric Gregory Brown III. He died after being taken to a local hospital, they said.
“The shooting that took place last night is absolutely devastating. A young boy’s life has been cut short due to an intolerable act of gun violence,” said LBPD Chief Wally Hebeish. “While we mourn this loss as a community, our officers will not stop working to locate and arrest those responsible for this tragedy.”
Police have not made any arrests or provided detailed descriptions of any suspects. The motive is still under investigation.
In a tweet Wednesday afternoon, Mayor Rex Richardson said he was “heartbroken” at the “senseless act of gun violence” and felt great sympathy for the family and friends of the Brown and the 14-year-old girl.
“We need our children to feel safe in our city,” Richardson said. “We must never accept this as normal. We must protect and prioritize our youth.”
Neighbors on Wednesday morning told the Long Beach Post that they were surprised to learn that the people who’d been shot were children.
One neighbor, who has lived on Lewis Avenue for 27 years and preferred to remain anonymous, said the area has been pretty calm over the last 10 years compared to 1990s and 2000s when there seemed to be more gang activity.
But this shooting has now left his wife in fear, he said.
In response to the violence, a local collaborative of organizations, businesses, churches and community members known as The Six organized a solidarity event Wednesday afternoon to safely help walk students from Signal Hill Elementary School and Nelson Academy to their homes.
“I’m completely devastated,” said Sheba Gillis, who lives in the neighborhood and helped organize the event. “It made me feel sick to my stomach because this is a neighborhood where kids literally play outside until midnight.”
According to Gillis, the group wanted to make sure that in the aftermath of the shooting, children felt supported and secure in their own neighborhood.
“We are going to reclaim our block,” Gillis said. “We’re going to support these families and we’re going to wrap ourselves around these kids.”
Suely Saro, who is the councilwoman for the 6th City Council District, where the shooting happened, said, “The loss of a young life is a devastation to our city.”
“A child last night was killed in the latest act of senseless gun violence on Hill and Lewis,” Saro said in a statement. “My thoughts are with the families and loved ones of Eric Gregory Brown III whose life was cut short, and to the 14-year-old girl who is hospitalized.”
Brown’s family is raising money for funeral expenses through a GoFundMe.