Authorities on Friday were investigating the death of a child who was fatally shot in the parking lot of his Houston-area apartment complex.
Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said the child was killed while walking from his apartment to his family's car to get something when several shots were fired at about 7 p.m. Thursday.
The boy's family identified him to KPRC-TV in Houston as 11-year-old Darius Dugas, a sixth-grader. She told the TV station she believed her son was the victim of an attempted robbery and that he was shot in the heart as he tried to return home.
“He assumed he had keys on him, but Darius being 11-years-old and not fully grasping what’s going on was just trying to get back up to the house, and the boy, I guess fearful for whatever reason, felt the need to take his life,” the boy's mother, Brenetta Francis, told KPRC.
The boy's family found him on the ground when he didn't return to their northeast Harris County apartment, Gonzalez said.
The child was taken to a local hospital, where he died.
“I promise, my baby did not deserve this,” Francis told KPRC. “He participates in school activities. He’s in the band. He plays the drums and bells. He had just received an award for the most growth, was very proud of the work he was doing in school, and loved his teachers.”
Gonzalez said that gun violence was a big problem his agency dealt with last year but "we've actually started the year doing pretty well. We've had very little gun violence related to children so far in the first month."
Gonzalez said authorities hoped Thursday's shooting was not the start of another trend.
"We don't want it to be like last year where we responded to hundreds of scenes … where juveniles had been shot. That is unacceptable," Gonzalez said.
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On Wednesday, Houston's mayor announced a $44 million plan to tackle violent crime in the nation's fourth-largest city, particularly a rise in homicides.