EAST PALO ALTO, Calif. (KRON) — East Palo Alto police announced two arrests have been made in connection to a gun battle waged last week in the middle of a park filled with children.
Dozens of children ran for their lives through Jack Farrell Park, screaming for help, as 33 shots were fired on May 17.
Two groups of armed men sent a hail of bullets through the park. The police chief said it was a “targeted attack” by one group of men who opened fire on a second group of men. The second group returned fire. Four adults were shot, including homicide victim Ralph Fields Jr.
No children were physically injured.
Despite the arrests, the killer may still be at-large.
“Neither person (arrested) is considered the homicide suspect at this time,” Police Chief Jeff Liu wrote Tuesday.
Police are still searching for more witnesses and trying to identify more suspects.
“The two people were booked into the San Mateo County Jail on their outstanding warrants where they will remain while we continue building the cases against them for their involvement in the shooting which endangered the families and children playing in Jack Farrell Park. Names and photos are not being released at this time because the investigation is continuing. We are still actively seeking witnesses to the homicide,” Liu wrote on Tuesday.
One video sent to KRON4 was recorded by a girl who was playing a game of tag with her friends at the exact moment a barrage of bullets were fired. The girl runs and screams, “Help me!”
The video went viral on Twitter with hundreds of comments.
The girl’s aunt told KRON4, “She ran towards us at the softball field. Then the bullets came flying towards the softball field and bleachers.”
At a community meeting held in the wake of the shooting, one mother said, “There were so many children screaming and crying and running. I can’t duck because I’m trying to find my son. Eventually I found him hiding behind the tree. Some lady took him in and a whole bunch of others to hide.”
Amidst the park’s chaos, the gunmen slipped away from the crime scene.
Pastor Paul Bains said, “If you see something, say something. Otherwise this is going to happen again because retaliation is what ignorant, stupid minds want to do.”
Bains said gang members broke their own street code.
“There is a street code that is out there. We don’t condone any type of violence. But you even broke the street code by shooting where kids were,” Bains said.
A witness said one of the men who was being shot at fled toward the softball field in the same direction where children and parents were trying to take cover under bleachers.
The only victim who was still in the park when officers arrived was Fields. Fields, 34, lived in East Palo Alto and is a cousin of Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Davante Adams.
Two more gunshot victims showed up at a nearby firehouse where they were treated by firefighter paramedics.
A fourth victim was found inside a house on Fordham Street, police said.
Police and faith leaders said no children were physically injured in the shooting, however, many were mentally traumatized.
“Shootings and violence, especially in parks with kids playing, is completely unacceptable. This type of activity will not be tolerated,” Liu said.
“Despite the large number of people present for this violent and tragic incident, we do not have many witnesses. It is imperative that we find the suspects responsible for this incident and hold them accountable within the law,” Liu said at press conference held last week.
The group Mothers Against Murder is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the killer.
Anyone with information about the shooting is asked to call EPAPD Cmdr. Angel Sanchez at 650-853-3154. Anonymous tips can be sent by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by text to 650-409-6792.
The East Palo Alto Police Department is being assisted by the Menlo Park Police Department, San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office and San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office.