A Compton, California, man wanted in connection with a parking-lot shootout which left a 3-year-old child dead turned himself in at the East Los Angeles Sheriff’s Station on Jan. 22.
Dwayne Christopher Ward, 29, accompanied by his lawyer, surrendered to L.A. County homicide detectives after authorities said they had identified him from surveillance video.
Ward was involved in a gang-related shootout in a liquor store parking lot in Compton, which left one of the most innocent of innocent bystanders—a toddler—dead from a stray shot.
Three-year-old Franklin Ponros was in the back seat of a car driven by his mother, whose boyfriend was also involved in the shootout. Shots aimed at the boyfriend pierced the car and struck the child.
Neither of the shooters was injured.
Detectives learned Ward’s identity by the evening of Sunday, Jan. 21, because members of the community came forward with information, after seeing surveillance videos. They started negotiations with Ward’s family about Ward turning himself in, KABC reported.
Fox News reports that Ward’s father pressured him to turn himself in.
The incident began around 7:45 on the night of Saturday, Jan. 20, when Ward’s girlfriend and son drove Ward to Nate’s Liquor Store at 2876 W Alondra Boulevard in Compton.
Store surveillance footage obtained by KABC shows a man entering the store and exchanging glances with Ward, who was at the counter paying for his purchase.
Though the video doesn’t show it, the two men had exchanged words in the parking lot—and then exchanged gunfire.
An outside camera did capture what appears to be an exchange of gunfire—the man who entered after Ward is standing by a white sedan at the edge of the parking lot, while Ward and apparently two other people are in a car parked next to the store. When the shooting starts, the video shows people in Ward’s car scrambling for cover.
After shooting, the other man ran to the passenger side of the white car. While this was happening, Ward leaped out of his car and fired several times at the white car.
The woman driving the white car sped away. According to KABC she traveled just over a block when she realized her 3-year-old son, sitting in the back seat, had been shot.
Police responded to her emergency call from the 17200 block of South Central Ave., in the neighboring town of Carson and transported Franklin to Harbor UCLA Medical Center, where he died of his injuries.
The family has set up a GoFindMe Page to help pay for Franklin’s funeral.
Police believe the shooting is gang-related, KABC reported.
“I believe that they know each other by sight, just from being rivals in the neighborhood,” sheriff’s Lt. Joe Mendoza told KABC. “However, as far as knowing him personally, we don’t believe that that was the case.”
A group of activists from the neighborhood held a vigil for the slain child in the parking lot of Nate’s on Sunday night, praying for the violence to end and calling on people in the neighborhood to help keep the streets safe.
Najee Ali, director of Project Islamic Hope, organized the service. “This 3-year-old child’s death struck a nerve with everyone,” Ali said. “The reality is that this child could’ve been anyone’s child, who was simply in the car at the store and lost his life.”
Dwayne Ward was initially booked on a parole violation. He could face charges of murder and felon in possession of a firearm.