Wilmington, Calif. - A 24-year-old woman was shot and killed along with her unborn baby while sitting in a parked vehicle in the Wilmington neighborhood, authorities said Monday.
Arlene Leonor Rodriguez, who was seven months pregnant, was in the1100 block of North Neptune Avenue at about 11:25 a.m. Sunday while a man she was with worked on the vehicle's engine, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.
A suspect walked up and shot multiple rounds into the vehicle, striking Rodriguez and the man, police said.
The suspect fled, and paramedics took Rodriguez and the male victim to a hospital, where Rodriguez was pronounced dead, according to police. Her baby did not survive.
“It’s very painful.” said distraught father Jose Rodriguez. He spoke to us from his home in Kansas and described the devastating loss of his daughter 24-year-old Arlena and her unborn baby. Arlena, who was seven months pregnant, was shot to death Sunday afternoon.
Her family believes she was the unintended target of gang violence.
“She was inside a vehicle and she was shot multiple times... two times. Once in the chest and once in the head,” said Jose Rodriguez.
Police say Arlena was inside a car that was parked on Neptune Avenue and Denni Street when a suspect opened fire on the vehicle and then ran away.
“They called me from the hospital and told me to go to the hospital and see what happen with the baby and then they told me the baby was dead but I got to hold the baby,” said Arlena’s Great Aunt, Maria Francesarujo
Her family says her boyfriend who was working on the car was also shot in the hand but is ok.
Arlena is the second child Jose Rodriguez has lost to gang violence.
His son Richard was killed in a shooting back in 2011.
His ex-wife died from health problems when Arlena was a child.
“I lost two children from the same mom and I lost a mom too... I have literally lost a whole family,” Rodriguez said.
On Wednesday family members gathered at a neighborhood memorial to remember the young pregnant mother who also has three surviving children, a three-year-old son and two-year-old twin girls.
“She had her issues. We all have our issues. But overall she was a good mom she loved her children,” Rodriguez said.
Meanwhile, police are searching for the shooter and are asking for the public’s help.
Family members also pleading for the killer to come forward.
“The person that did it...if they can just turn themselves in... just something.” Francesarujo said.
The family has set up a Gofundme account to help pay for funeral expenses.
Anyone with information is urged to call the LAPD. You can call the Crimestoppers Hotline at 800 222-TIPS.
You can remain anonymous.