FRESNO, Calif. --Police in California say a man fatally shot a toddler in front of the boy's parents in what may have been a gang-related attack.
The Fresno Bee reports that Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer appeared distraught during a news conference about the Tuesday night shooting.
Police say 20-month-old Rashad Halford Jr. was in the common area of an apartment complex when a man approached and opened fire at the boy's father. Rashad, his father and a third man were taken to the hospital, where Rashad died.
Dyer said the boy's father had gang connections when he was younger. But the chief said he believed the man had changed his life as an adult.
Police say his father was holding him when the shooter walked up in a hoodie, tightened the strings around his face, and took aim at Rashad Sr.
He hit his target but killed the boy.
Rashad Jr. only lived 20 months but he was a favorite in the apartment complex where he lived.
"He was just this little kid that did things that excited you," family friend Donna Duckett said. "He did things that made you laugh and he'll truly be missed."
His death brought tears to many, even Dyer. He called the shooter a coward who knew he was shooting at a man and a baby.
"This is a new low for us in the city of Fresno," Dyer said. "Having a 20-month-old boy who is shot and killed as he is either being held by his father or leaning on his father."
Dyer says this is the youngest shooting victim he can remember during his time as chief, but it's the fourth child under the age of 10 shot in the last two years.
He says his homicide team is putting on a full-court press to solve this case.
KFSN-TV contributed to this report.