LOS ANGELES, Calif.–Two reputed gang members were charged Friday with the Halloween-day killing of Aaron Shannon Jr., 5, who was shot while showing off his Spider-Man costume in the backyard of his family’s South Los Angeles home.
In addition to murder, Marcus Denson, 18, and Leonard Hall Jr., 21, were each charged with two counts of attempted murder for the Oct. 31 shooting in the 1000 block of East 84th Street. Hall is alleged to have fired the fatal shot, according to prosecutors.
The complaint alleges that the crime was committed for the benefit of a criminal street gang.
Arraignment for both men is set for Nov. 19.
Prosecutors said Hall and Denson are members of the Kitchen Crips gang, and they entered rival gang territory on Halloween Day and approached the back of a home that opened up into an alley.
William Shannon, Terrence Shannon, and other family members were gathered in a backyard, where the victim was running around, showing his father and others his costume.
“When we saw the guys coming from the west to the east, we nodded at these two gentlemen and expected them to nod back,” said William, the grandfather of the victim. “We thought maybe they were young or rude. They were out of view after three seconds, and I heard a series of small explosions. My son and I were thinking it’s passed the Fourth of July and then I thought, ‘I hope those two guys are alright.’”
Within the next few moments, one of the shooters came into view and began shooting again, aiming at William.
“I didn’t believe what was happening,” he said. William stared and heard three rounds before he turned to run. By the time he turned, he had been shot in the wrist; his son, Terrance was shot in the thigh, and young Aaron had been shot in the head.
“I (had) just told my grandson to go in and get his jacket, and when he turned to go inside the house; that’s when the shots began.”
The neighborhood where the boy lived is an active gang area, but his family had no gang ties, according to police.
The boy died from a single gunshot wound to the back of the head, according to Deputy District Attorney Larry Droeger of the Hardcore Gang Division.
“My son (Aaron Shannon Jr., the victim’s father) has been taking it hard, and I’ve been trying to keep him strong through this,” William said. “We are just real sad. When I think about him, I can’t help but smile because he was an extroverted person. If he met you today… he would certainly compliment you no matter who you are. He had a tremendous personality.”
William said he feels sorry for the families of the suspects.
Denson was arrested Thursday, and Hall on Friday. A judge ordered their bail be raised from $1 million to $4 million each.
If convicted as charged, Hall and Denson each face a maximum term of 130 years to life in prison, Droeger said.
LAPD homicide Detective Eric Crosson of the LAPD’s 77th Street Station said the shooting was linked to a gang rivalry between the Kitchen Crips and Swan Bloods.
The Los Angeles City Council had offered a reward of up to $75,000 for information leading to the suspected gang members who fatally shot the boy. The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors offered a $25,000 reward.
City News Service contributed to this story.