Late night shooting in San Pedrito: toddler killed, mother in critical condition

According to Officer in Charge of the San Pedro Police Formation, Superintendent of Police Luis Castellanos, Aleyda Sandoval, Daniel Espat and her common-law- husband Rolando “Roli” Espat were at home sleeping in their apartment room located on the ground level of a two storey wooden structure. Sometime around 1:45AM, they woke up to the sound of several loud bangs after which Sandoval realized she and her baby had been shot.

Rolando Espat, who has lost four children to gun violence, said that he is confused, heartbroken and at a loss for words. “I was asleep when I heard the gunshots. The first thing I did was to try and cover my kid because he was in the middle and my wife was in the corner of the bed. I tried covering both of them with my body. I threw myself over them but everything happened so fast. I heard several shots, perhaps 10. When the shots stopped I asked, is everybody ok, and she said the baby is not moving,” recalled Espat as he wiped his tears. He added that when he put on the light, he discovered his son on the bed in a pool of blood, and his wife was bleeding.

According to a neighbor, who asked to remain anonymous, she was awaked by the shots, one of which landed inside her apartment. Following the shooting, she heard Espat and Sandoval yelling for help and that is when she came out. The neighbor said that she managed to assist the three and drove them to the Dr Otto Rodriguez San Pedro PolyClinic II for treatment.

“When we arrived at the clinic, we saw the medical officer on duty, attending to the toddler who had gunshot wounds to the head. Shortly after the toddler was pronounced dead… We also observed the mother of the child, suffering from what appeared to be gunshot injuries to the left hand and the bullet apparently had penetrated into her back,” said Castellanos. Charlie Daniel Espat was observed with two gunshot wounds to the head, and he died while undergoing treatment.

Who would want to kill a two-year-old toddler? Both police and Rolando Espat are of the belief that the intended target was not the baby. “I heard rumors that they are after me. Six months ago, my older son was shot and killed and now my baby son. It is very hard for me to be dealing with this entire situation,” said Espat. He told the media that he has provided police with the necessary information as part of their investigation. “I don’t want to go in details as to who I suspect wants me dead, but the police has this information. I am leaving it into the hands of the police and God. I don’t want revenge but I want justice by the hands of the police,’ said Espat.

Castellanos said that following last week’s shooting, the San Pedro Police Department has stepped up its police patrol. He indicated that the patrol was boosted by the presence of the Gang Suppression Unit (GSU) who has maintained a visible presence on the island for the past two weeks. “We have emphasized to our officers that they must make San Pedrito Area, an area of concern in order to conduct regular patrols… In fact, let me say that I picked up a police officer who was off duty, and I personally went into the area sometime around 11:30PM, hours before the shooting, to do a patrol because I know it is an area of concern. This shooting happened in the wee hours of the morning, a time when our patrol would be less in the area, so to say we are not doing enough is unfair,” explained Castellanos. The officer said that while human and vehicular resources are limited, it is not an excuse for the police not maintaining a presence. He did say however, that while Police have beefed up their patrol “the criminals are always one step ahead of the police.”

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