Cold Case: Reward increased for information leading suspect who fatally shot boy in Altadena

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors have increased the reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the people responsible for the tragic fatal shooting of a 4-year-old boy in 2016.

On July 5, 2016, Salvador "Chavita" Esparza III was shot and killed around 10:40 p.m. as he stood in the doorway of a home at 384 W. Figueroa Drive in Altadena.  

Officials say Salvador was an innocent victim caught in the crossfire of a gang related incident. The kindergarten-bound boy had been visiting family friends when he was shot, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. He died at a hospital.

A 27-year-old man was also injured in the shooting, officials said.

The county had originally offered a $20,000 reward in the case, but the shooting remains unsolved. On May 3, the Board of Supervisors increased the reward to $75,000. 

Salvador "Chavita" Esparza III

"Six years ago, little Salvador's life was violently and tragically ended," Supervisor Kathryn Barger, who introduced the reward motion, said in a statement. "I am extending and increasing the reward amount because I have faith that there's someone out there who can help bring justice for the Esparza family. Every bit of information helps, so don't hesitate to reach out. Help us identify the perpetrator who robbed Salvador of his future and left an unfillable void in his family's heart."

At the time of the shooting, then-sheriff's Lt. John Corina said a person of interest had gotten into a heated alcohol-fueled argument in the street with the live-in boyfriend of the boy's mother an hour or two before the shooting.

The boyfriend and his brother were the shooter's intended targets, Corina said.

Several other young children were asleep inside when the gunfire broke out, Corina said.

The gunman walked up to the home and fired at least 13 rounds, striking the victims as they sat on a porch, according to the sheriff's department.

The wounded man was a family friend not related to the child, according to the sheriff's department.

The gunman, who Corina said is possibly a gang member who lives in the neighborhood, got into a dark car and fled the scene. The attack was initially described as a drive-by shooting but investigators later determined the gunman walked toward the victims from the direction of Olive Avenue.

Anyone with information about the shooting was urged to contact sheriff's Sgt. Dominick Recchia at 323-890-5500. Tips can be made anonymously to Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS (8477).

"Little Chavita Esparza would have been 11 years old this year," Pasadena Mayor Victor Gordo said in a statement. "Instead, he was shot and killed when he was just 4 years old in July 2016. He has not been forgotten and we are appealing to the public, once again, to step up and provide needed information to help us solve the horrific killing of this innocent little boy."