A 2-year-old boy was shot and killed while playing in the front yard of his Indiana home. Police believe the tragedy may have been the unintended result of gang violence about a block from the family’s house.
John Swoeveland Jr. was playing with his 7-year-old sister outside the family’s South Bend home when he was struck by a bullet. Two rival groups had begun to fight around 6 p.m. Wednesday when the argument escalated to a gunfight, the Associated Press reports. One group was running west down the block away from the other and towards the toddler when the errant bullet struck, police believe.
Neighbor Donnie Price said his 26-year-old daughter Lola was playing with the children at the time. When he heard the 7-year-old yelling, he thought his daughter was having a seizure.
"The mom, when she saw the blood along the edge of the Pampers when she pulled his shirt up, that's when she saw the gunshot wound," Price said.
Lola Price thought the shooting was a drive-by.
"It was just a flash. It happened real quickly," said Lola Price. "It scared me."
Emergency workers soon arrived on the scene, but the child had already died. His death was ruled a homicide.
Neighborhood residents consider the area safe and routinely let their children play outside.
"We're just going to have to figure out something to do with the kids," said neighbor and mother-of-three Sheila King Martinez.
No arrests have yet been made in connection with the shooting, and no one has been taken into custody.
As they mourn their loss, the family is hoping that someone will come forward with information about the shooter.
"I just hope anyone and everyone out there who saw anything, please let the authorities know. Help us bring them to justice,” Jullianne Kinder, Swoeveland’s aunt, told WSBT.
"He was only two-years-old. He had his whole life ahead of him. He loved life,” she said.