Man shoots toddler at restaurant, is killed by police

Wednesday, January 22, 2003

POMONA, Calif. -- The parents of a 2-year-old boy killed by a stranger while eating at a Burger King wept Tuesday as they tried to understand why the man walked up to their son and shot him in the head.

The gunman fled after Monday's shooting, but was killed by police after pulling the weapon and telling them, "shoot me, shoot me." The toddler, Osvaldo Martinez, died at a hospital.

"It appeared to be unmotivated," police Sgt. Joann Crabb said of the shooting. "Apparently it was totally unprovoked from what witnesses were saying."

Osvaldo's parents, Yessenia Rochin and Servando Martinez, huddled underneath a blue blanket on their couch Tuesday and cried as they recalled their little boy.

"He was a very happy child, very loving," Rochin said in Spanish. "He loved to jump. He was everything for me that child, and they killed him. They killed my boy."

Rochin's sister-in-law, Sylvia Mero, spent Tuesday trying to start a fund to pay for the boy's burial costs and psychological counseling for his two brothers, Omar, 6, and Gerardo, 7. She said the family had gone to the store for soap and stopped at the restaurant at Osvaldo's request.

The shooting sent customers and employees scrambling for cover.

"I heard the mother screaming in Spanish 'Why did you do this to my son?"' said employee Arturo Flores, 22, who was shaking as he recalled the attack. "She was in shock, she saw her son covered in blood."

Authorities were waiting for the results of toxicology tests to determine if the gunman, Daniel Moreno, 24, was under the influence of drugs at the time of shooting. Flores said the gunman appeared to be on drugs, adding: "He killed him just to kill him."

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