Salinas police are urging residents to help them identify and locate suspects involved in the fatal shooting of a 6-year-old boy in his backyard Tuesday night. The boy, whose identity has not yet been released, was shot while playing in his backyard in the 1000 block of East Laurel Drive at 6:12 p.m. Tuesday, Officer Lalo Villegas said.The child lived in a downstairs unit of an apartment complex. Villegas said the bullet that killed the boy was shot from Laurel Pocket Park, piercing a shared wooded fence and striking the boy, who was standing halfway between his kitchen and the edge of his backyard. When officers arrived, they found the child suffering from a gunshot wound to the head. He was taken to a hospital, where he died. “He is a totally innocent kid,” Villegas said. “I can’t even imagine what this family is going through. I don’t know what I’d do if that was my child.”Officers initially detained five male gang members ranging in age, but they were released after police determined they were actually the intended targets of the gunfire, Villegas said. The suspects in the shooting are believed to be gang members.Police found a handgun at Laurel Pocket Park that may have belonged to one of the suspects, but it does not appear to be the same gun used in the shooting, Villegas said. One of the suspects may have been in possession of it and discarded it at the park after the shooting, he said.The park is in a high-crime neighborhood in the city’s eastside that has experienced several past shootings. Villegas urged community members to help police find the perpetrators. “I can’t stress enough that we need the community to step forward and help,” Villegas said. “People need to know that these individuals, the suspect or suspects, they have no respect for life. They’re cold-blooded killers. And we need to do something about this.”Anyone with information on the shooting is urged to call the Salinas Police Department’s detective division at (831) 758-7226, Detective Tom Larkin at (831) 758-7127 or Robert Van Blarcom at (831) 758-7276.
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