Police arrest murder suspect just blocks from shooting site

County District Attorney Ramos: “We’ve been working every minute since this happened. I promise the citizens of this county, this state that we will make sure justice is done in this case.”

SAN BERNARDINO – A 19-year-old gang member was caught on Wednesday after the police department’s gang unit chased him on foot less than two blocks from where a triple shooting occurred on Monday night.

A three-year-old girl died shortly after the shooting while another three-year-old was struck in the head and a 21-year-old pregnant woman was shot in the neck and jaw.
Brandon Taray Barnes was identified less than 24 hours after Monday’s shooting that killed Nylah Franco-Torrez, who was shot in the head and died less than one hour later.
Barnes was charged with seven felony counts on Thursday, said County District Attorney Mike Ramos.
Police said that 12 rounds were fired from a handgun, killing Franco-Torrez, and wounding La-Donna Howie, 21, and her daughter, Justine Howie, just outside their home on the 900 block of North D. Street.
The shootings, police believe, happened in retaliation for someone in that home intervening in a domestic dispute.
Police said that about a dozen people live at that address but remain unclear on the relationships between each of the residents.
It was La-Donna Howie’s husband, Jerry, who broke up a fight that involved the shooting suspect earlier that day. Police believe that Barnes followed the Howies home after the assault. Reports are that he returned later and fired his handgun from the street.
Lt. Gwendolyn Waters said no words were spoken before the gunfire erupted.
“We had countless interviews with witnesses and that led us to the suspect less than 24 hours after the shooting,” she said.
At 5:09 on Wednesday, officers with the department’s gang unit spotted Barnes on a bicycle at Baseline St. and Mayfield Ave. Officers pursued Barnes on foot and, after a short chase, he was arrested in the 1100 block of North D St., less than two blocks from the 900 block at which the shooting occurred.
“I am shocked that he was that close to the shooting (scene),” said Waters, “but he has ties there and in this area.”
San Bernardino Chief of Police Keith Kilmer said of Barnes’ apprehension so close to the shooting scene, “That showed a lack of conscience and it showed cowardice.”
Ramos said the felony counts against Barnes, which includes the murder of Franco-Torrez, will add up to a huge maximum sentence. “He’s looking at 305 years to life for those crimes.”
Waters said that no weapon has been recovered after police served a search warrant at Barnes’ home.
Kilmer said, “The evidence (against Barnes) is very, very strong.”
Said Ramos: “We’ve been working every minute since this happened. I promise the citizens of this county, this state that we will make sure justice is done in this case.”
Waters said that Barnes had no prior contact with any of the shooting victims.
La-Donna Howie is expected to survive, said Waters, while Justine is in extremely critical condition. Police said the little girl was responding to people by moving her hand.
“There is hope that she will pull through,” Waters said.
Story links

Story links:

The San Bernardino Sun, 1 arrest in tot’s killing; family grieves

Riverside Press Enterprise, http://www.pe.com/localnews/sbcounty/stories/webSBshooting.168cd9ec7.html

LA Times, http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-toddler-shooting-arrest-20110916,0,3938030.story


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