Two reputed gang members were charged Friday with the murder of a 3-year-old boy who was struck by gunfire during a shootout in the parking lot of a Compton liquor store two months ago.
Dwayne Ward, 30, and Kevaughn Harris, 27, each pleaded not guilty to one count each of murder, shooting at an occupied motor vehicle and possession of a firearm by a felon.
The two rival gang members allegedly got into a verbal dispute on Jan. 20 as Harris walked toward a car containing his girlfriend and her 3-year-old son, Franklin, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
The two men allegedly fired gunshots at each other in the parking lot in the 2800 block of West Alondra Boulevard, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
The toddler, who was in the back seat of the car, was struck by the gunfire, but his mother was not injured.
Deputies responding to a 911 call were sent to the 17200 block of South Central Avenue in Carson, where they found Harris and his girlfriend with the mortally wounded child, who was taken to a local hospital and pronounced dead, according to the sheriff’s department.
Ward surrendered two days later to homicide detectives and had been held without bail on an alleged parole violation.
Harris was arrested Wednesday.
Both men were ordered to be held in lieu of $3.135 million bail while awaiting an April 20 court hearing in Compton.
If convicted as charged, Ward and Harris each face up to life in prison, according to the District Attorney’s Office.