UPDATE NO. 5, OCT. 25, 4:08 P.M.: Anaheim Police Chief Raul Quezada began his press conference this afternoon by introducing the parents of 9-year-old Ximena Meza, who was fatally shot once in the chest while playing outside her home Wednesday night.
"No words or actions can fill the void in your hearts," said Quezada, who assured the Mezas the Anaheim Police Department "family" will stand by them throughout the justice process.
Anaheim City Councilwoman Kris Murray encouraged the community to continue to support the Meza family through the GoFundMe account for Ximena's funeral expenses. There is now a button on the city's Anaheim.net that takes visitors to that page as well.
"In two short days the community has come together to share concerns and strategize for community safety," Quezada also said during the news conference, adding that the "grieving and search for justice is what fueled our detectives."
"Documented gang members" Ricardo Cruz and Alfredo Miguel Aquino, who have been arrested for the girl's slaying, were both on probation at the time of the tragedy, the chief noted.
UPDATE NO. 4. OCT. 25, 11:08 A.M. : This morning, the Anaheim Police Department announced they had arrested two suspects in the murder of nine-year-old Ximena Meza, whose killing has repulsed Anaheim. In a press release, police said the culprits were 19-year-old Ricardo Cruz of Buena Park and 20-year-old Anaheim resident Alfredo Miguel Aquino. They were booked for murder and being held on $1 million bail. A press conference is scheduled for 2 p.m., where more details will be divulged.
Per the press release:
Preliminarily, the investigation suggests two or more suspects drove down Greenacre Ave. from Crescent Ave. in a white vehicle. Near where Meza and her sisters played, a male suspect exited the white car and opened fire with a handgun. His intended targets were a group of men who were congregated just west of where Meza played. Meza and her sisters were caught in the line of fire. The group of men fled the scene on foot while the white car, containing the suspect, sped away. It is believed the shooting was gang motivated.
UPDATE NO. 3, OCT. 24, 8:50 A.M.: Readers have asked if a fund has been established to contribute to Ximena Meza's funeral expenses. There is one now, thanks to the slain 9-year-old's aunt, and it has raised nearly $8,000 toward its $10,000 goal in less than a day.
Meanwhile, the Association of Orange County Deputy District Attorneys has contributed $2,500 to the reward aimed at finding, arresting and convicting Ximena's killer. That has raised the reward total to $57,500.
UPDATE NO. 2, OCT. 23, 5:12 P.M.: Anaheim and its police department are now offering a $50,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction of 9-year-old Ximena Meza's killer–on top of the $5,000 reward announced earlier in the day by the Anaheim Police Association.
Tips, even anonymous ones, can be called in to to Orange County Crime Stoppers at 855.TIP.OCCS or left at occrimestoppers.org or by texting OCCS and your info to CRIMES (274637).
Meanwhile, Anaheim Police Chief Raul Quezada and members of his force will be at the Brookhurst Community Center, 2271 W. Crescent Ave., at 7 tonight to talk with area residents about Ximena Meza's murder, according to Lt. Bob Dunn, the agency's spokesman.
"The meeting will provide an overview of the incident, status of the police investigation, next steps in ensuring the safety of the community, and time for the police and community to share information," Dunn writes in a statement. "Spanish translation will also be offered."
UPDATE NO. 1, OCT. 23, 12:56 P.M.: The Anaheim Police Association today offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction of 9-year-old Ximena Meza's killer.
"Losing a child is horrible and tragic to any family, but to lose a bright and beautiful 9-year-old girl due to gang violence is unacceptable, and we should do everything in our power to bring the person(s) responsible to justice,'' says Kerry Condon, president of the union, in a statement.
"This senseless killing has devastated a family, neighborhood and community here in Anaheim, and the men and women of the police department will work tirelessly to bring some … closure to the Meza family," Condon added.
"I just love her, love her so much and I know she is with God right now because she is an angel," says Ximena's father, William Meza, in a KCBS/Channel 2 report.
The girl was playing in front of her apartment with her two sisters and other friends when the shots rang out, but homicide investigators do not believe Ximena was a target, according to Lt. Bob Dunn, the Anaheim Police spokesman.
The shooting could have been a drive-by or done by someone on foot who then jumped into a vehicle, added Dunn, who directed those with information that can help find the girl's killer to Orange County Crime Stoppers at 855.TIPOCCS.
ORIGINAL POST. OCT. 23, 9:15 A.M.: The county coroner has identified Ximena Meza as the 9-year-old girl who was shot dead while playing in front of her Anaheim home Wednesday night.
Gunfire rang out around 7:15 p.m. in the 2300 block of West Greenacre Avenue, which is near a row of apartments and Brookhurst Community Park.
Hector Lopez was watching his son's Pop Warner football team practice in the park when he heard three shots and then tires screeching, City News Service reports.
A 12-year-old boy who was inside his apartment eating dinner also heard the blasts, went outside and was the first to discover his injured playmate, who had been playing on the sidewalk. He watched as Ximena's eyes rolled back in her head.
She was taken to UCI Medical Center in Orange, where her distraught father accompanied paramedics pushing a gurney inside. Ximena was pronounced dead four minutes before 8 p.m. and a month before her 10th birthday, the Orange County coroner disclosed this morning.
Neighbors told television news reporters Ximena's family only moved into their apartment about a month ago.
Anaheim Police Lt. Bob Dunn, the department spokesman, called that section of West Greenacre "a family-oriented neighborhood" that "is frequented by gang members who do claim this area.'' Indeed, many parents with children who live there point to the park across the street as a constant source of bad behavior. Some indicated they will now keep their kids indoors or pull them out of nearby schools and move.
Dunn said investigators have few leads to go on when it comes to the shooter, other than he is a male. Members of the public are asked to call Orange County Crime Stoppers at 855.TIPOCCS, even anonymously, if they known anything that can help find Ximena's killer.