Innocent 9-year-old boy killed in gang-related shooting, Madera Police say

Leonardo Morales is dead after a drive-by shooting hit him and his father

MADERA, Calif. - Police are on the hunt for double shooting suspects responsible for the death of a nine-year-old boy. Investigators say the drive-by shooting happened Sunday night on Tozer Street near Olive Avenue. They say it's gang related.

Patrols are fully loaded as police try to capitalize on the leads they do have. Chief Lawson's message to the shooter who murdered Leonardo Morales is clear.

"We're coming for ya. We're coming for ya. You can turn yourself in or my people will get you and bring you to justice," said Lawson.

A promising statement made by Chief Dino Lawson just 30 minutes after meeting with the mother of nine-year-old Leonardo Morales.

"We have lost a nine-year-old innocent child. I have a mother, that her world is torn apart," said Lawson.

Tozer Street is quiet now but on Sunday night just before 7:30 PM, police say gun shots rang out. They say an unknown car pulled up along the passenger side of Leonardo before the shooter opened fire, hitting him several times and his father three times in the stomach. Lawson says the father managed to drive to the home of Leonardo's mother. His oldest son took both victims to Madera Community Hospital where Leonardo would die.

Madera Mayor Andey Medellin showed support for police. He says the passing of Measure K helped hire ten new officers and the fight is on.

"The biggest thing we wanted to do was hire more police officers to combat crime and gangs and so we will continue to do so and fight this problem that not just Madera, but everybody has," said Medellin.

Police say Leonardo and his dad had just finished dong laundry. His father was using his visitation rights but known as a gang associate and his oldest son is a confirmed gang member, according to police. Residents say gang activity is becoming too common.

"Madera's a pretty good, small, remote town and we notice this growth of gangs and I just feel like it creates a hostile environment for people who just walk around and live their everyday lives," said Christopher Espino.

The Special Investigation Unit is also on the case. Chief Lawson says his department's number one priority is bring closure to Leonardo's family.

"So we're gonna actively go out and increase our numbers on the streets," said Lawson.

If you have any information, please call Crime Stoppers at 498-STOP.

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