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Gang member charged in toddler killing faces 305 years

September 16, 2011 |  8:43 am

Suspect in toddler death charged with murder
Prosecutors on Friday charged a teenage member of a Los Angeles-based street gang with murder and seven counts of attempted murder in Monday's revenge shooting in San Bernardino that killed a 3-year-old girl and wounded her mother and another young girl.

"As the district attorney, let me be clear about one thing. The killing of babies in our community will not be tolerated," San Bernardino County Dist. Atty. Michael Ramos said. "The defendant in this matter will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."

If convicted, Brandon Taray Barnes faces 305 years to life in prison.

The 19-year-old San Bernardino man allegedly shot a dozen rounds at a family living in the 1300 block of D Street in retaliation against a male resident who -– an hour earlier -– stopped the suspect from beating a woman on a sidewalk a few doors away.

Investigators with the San Bernardino Police Department, aided by eyewitness accounts of the shooting, identified the suspect within 24 hours and the agency's gang unit tracked him down Wednesday evening, two blocks from the crime scene.

"I make a commitment: He will never come out to harm another citizen in this county again," Ramos said.

The shooting occurred as relatives at the home of Sophia Cardona were about to sit down for dinner.

Nylah Franco-Torres, 3, was shot in the head and pronounced dead at a hospital. Cardona said her granddaughter La-Donna Howie, 21, and Howie's 4-year-old daughter Justine, were wounded in the gunfire.

Howie, who is five months pregnant, was listed in stable condition at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in Colton. Her fetus was unharmed and in good condition, police said.

Justine was in extremely critical condition at Loma Linda University Medical Center with a head wound.

Relatives said she has regained consciousness and is "a real fighter," Cardona said.


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Photo: Close family friend Imelda De La Rosa of San Bernardino can't hold back her tears as San Bernardino police announce an arrest in the shooting death 3-year old Nylah Franco-Torrez. Credit: Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times