Sounding tougher on crime this week after the dustup involving the Jasper Wu case, Alameda County District Attorney Pamela Price gave a press conference with the CHP and Fremont police on Tuesday about the killing of five-year-old Eliyanah Crisostomo.
"I can tell you, as a mother and a grandmother, my heart goes out to this family," Price said to the assembled media at the press conference at CHP's headquarters in Hayward. "No family should have to experience this."
Three men are now in custody, Humberto Anaya, Kristo Ayala Valderrama, and Emmanuel Sarango, and are charged with murder and with shooting at an occupied vehicle. When they were first arrested last week, prosecutors suggested that only Anaya and Sarango were connected with the freeway shooting, however they now believe all three men were involved and in the red Honda Accord in which they were later apprehended en route to Santa Cruz.
The trio are also charged in a separate incident that occurred 15 minutes prior to the shooting on I-880 that claimed Eliyanah's life, in which one of them shot at a man walking on Fremont Boulevard, possibly because he was wearing red clothing.
"I'm saddened that we have to be here to once again speak about ridiculous and unacceptable violence," said Fremont Police Chief Sean Washington at the news conference.
As KTVU reports, prosecutors now say that Anaya, Valderrama, and Sarango mistook the Crisostomo family's SUV for the vehicle of rival gang members. Prior to firing multiple bullets into the car, one or more of them allegedly flashed Sureño gang symbols and or shouted the word "Sureño."
Price said at the press conference that three men face sentences of 45 years to life in prison. She was asked by a KTVU reporter if she would be seeking gangn enhancements or other enhancements to the charges, Price said, "I don't have a preference at this time. What I've said is we are working closely to evaluate the evidence and to determine if there will be additional charges."
Assistant DA Casey Bates added that "these are important decisions that have to be made over time, and not at the time of charging."
The Crisostomo was traveling to a family birthday dinner at Outback Steakhouse in Fremont on the evening before Easter, April 8, when their car was hit with a barrage of bullets. The family's car was then found by CHP officers along the freeway in Milpitas, and they found five-year-old Eliyanah with a gunshot wound to the heart. No one else in the vehicle was injured.
Santa Cruz police later stopped the suspect vehicle on Highway 17 and detained the three suspects, though there was some confusion in the following days about whether any arrests had been made.