Police on Wednesday were seeking information on a thwarted assault that triggered a horrific vengeance shooting at a Southern California home where a 3-year-old girl died and a pregnant woman and her toddler daughter were critically wounded.
A man was walking in his working-class neighborhood in San Bernardino on Monday when he saw a man beating a woman and intervened, allowing her to escape, police Lt. Gwendolyn Waters said.
Police believed the suspect in that assault followed the good Samaritan to his house then returned later with a handgun. He started shooting at the home where family members had gathered on the front porch, Waters said.
"We believe it was revenge," Waters said Tuesday. "This is somebody that was trying to do a good deed."
Police were trying to piece together details about those hours that preceded the rampage, in the hopes that anyone who saw the beating might lead them to the gunman.
Police want to speak to the beating victim and at least two other witnesses to the assault but none had come forward as of Wednesday morning, Waters said.
The tragic shooting has rocked this Southern California desert city about 60 miles east of Los Angeles. Law enforcement officials claimed the attack was an anomaly amid a drop in crime, but residents who visited the grieving family at their bullet-riddled home said they were sick of the violence.
Three-year-old Nylah Franco-Torrez was shot in the head and pronounced dead at a hospital. The pregnant woman was in stable condition, police said. Her child, also a 3-year-old girl, remained in critical condition Wednesday, said Herbert Atienza, a spokesman for Loma Linda University Children's Hospital.
Outside the home, people laid teddy bears, flowers and candles and offered a prayer for the victims.
It was one of four shootings in San Bernardino between Monday night and Tuesday morning and marked an end to more than two months without a homicide, said Mayor Patrick Morris.
LaTonya King, who visited the family, said she planned to voice her concerns at a city council meeting next week.
"We're just outraged. We're disgusted about the whole situation," King said. "We don't want to see this thing slid under the rug."
Residents of the mustard-colored house wedged between a tax service business and a boarded-up home declined to comment when approached by The Associated Press.
Neighbors said an extended family lived inside the house. About a dozen people were home when the shooting occurred, Waters said, but the relationships among them were not entirely clear.
Police Chief Keith Kilmer urged witnesses to come forward and encouraged the gunman to turn himself in.
"We will find you, we will seek you out, and we will arrest you and bring you to justice," Kilmer said. "We are going to be relentless."