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A 22-month-old boy was killed in a "gang-related" drive-by shooting in Jacksonville, Florida, police said Saturday while appealing for help in finding the gunman.
A $20,000 reward is being offered for any information leading to an arrest of the suspect who killed the child, identified as Aiden Michael McClendon. The reward was bumped up from $3,000 after business leaders in Jacksonville added funds to the cause, authorities said.
Aiden was in a car near a Jacksonville sports arena when the vehicle was hit by several rounds of gunfire Friday night, the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said in a statement. He was struck three times in his shoulder and abdomen and taken to the hospital in critical condition, authorities said. He died at the hospital.
Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams said the shooting was “gang-related,” but no one in the car with Aiden, including his mother and grandmother, were the intended targets. Investigators believe shootings in Jacksonville earlier on Friday might be connected to the shooting that killed Aiden, Williams said.
A white vehicle was seen fleeing the scene of the shooting.
“If anybody thinks that they can move across our city and spray bullets in to a car … we are resolute and determined to come after you,” said Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry.
Williams said that 13 people had been murdered in the city since the beginning of the year alone. “Our resolve is strong to stop gun violence and gang activity,” he said.
"There's no excuse" for the boy's death, said Tom Hackney, the sheriff's office's chief of investigations, according to NBC affiliate First Coast News.
"Turn these people in," he said during a news conference Friday night. "They don't deserve to be walking the same streets that you and I walk."