Police in Florida were investigating Tuesday the murder of a three-year-old boy who was shot and killed at his own birthday party.
Elijah LaFrance was likely struck by a stray bullet in a Miami suburb Saturday evening, when “unknown subjects armed with various semi-automatic weapons, to include rifles, arrived on the scene and began discharging the firearms towards the residence” as the child’s family cleaned up the yard after the party, Miami-Dade police said.
The toddler was taken to the hospital, where he “succumbed to his injuries,” according to police.
Authorities were offering a $15,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of suspects in the case.
Elijah, who would have turned four in a few days, was celebrating his birthday with another child, his family told local media.
Videos from the party show the children playing in a pool at the house, surrounded by colorful balloons.
Officers arrived on the scene after being alerted through the ShotSpotter system, a technology that listens for gunshots and is installed throughout nearly 100 American cities.
A 21-year-old woman was also shot in the incident. Police recovered more than 60 bullets on the scene.
“I am completely devastated, I’m disgusted,” said Miami-Dade County Police Department Chief Alfredo Ramirez III as he vowed to invest every effort possible to solve the crime.
Young children are regularly victims of gun violence in the United States, where firearms are common and elected officials struggle to come to consensus around regulations.