Long after the bullets stopped flying on a busy Mesa street corner, 9-year-old Roselyn Ramirez of Mesa must still cope with the physical and emotional scars from being wounded in a senseless drive-by shooting.
A day after another victim – 1-year-old Sebastian Duran – was buried by his grieving family, Saul Ramirez last week reflected on how his sister’s life is changed forever by the Oct. 16 shooting left also wound five others at Dobson and Guadalupe roads.
Roselyn, Sebastian and his older brother and sister, were among the innocent victims who were having dinner in the parking lot at a pop-up food truck event when the shooting occurred around 9:30 p.m.
Saul, 26, who lives in Utah, said Roselyn’s survival was in doubt for the first three days after the shooting.
While thankful to doctors at Banner Children’s at Desert Hospital for pulling her through, he now focuses on how her life will likely be compromised forever as Mesa police pleaded again for the public’s assistance in identifying the gunman.
Ramirez also pleads with the public to remember his sister, Sebastian and the other victims and help police with the information they need to make an arrest.
“It’s very stressful. You wish that someone could tell you all the answers,’’ Ramirez said. “It would be really easy for me to say, I hope she gets back to where she was before, but that isn’t possible.’’
“They have done an amazing job and they have saved her life,’’ he said.
Before he had to return home, Ramirez said he watched as doctors got Roselyn out of bed to keep her blood moving and to prevent her muscles from atrophying.
“I could see how scared she was, to take those first steps. I’m sure she was feeling a lot of pain. That hurt me more than anything,’’ he said. “She’s a strong girl. She’s doing a really great job. She’s head-strong and she’s determined.’’
But Roselyn’s future remains somewhat clouded. She suffers from internal bleeding and it is unknown if she will be able as an adult to give birth.
Her brother knows that justice for Roselyn will not make his sister whole, but he notes a successful arrest and prosecution at least would prevent another family from suffering the hellish nightmare that befell the Duran and Ramirez families.
“The suspect is still out there. That should enrage and infuriate the public,’’ Ramirez said, adding:
“Whether they catch the guy or not, what he did is irredeemable for my family. It’s not going to heal the scars. It’s not going to prevent her from reliving this moment for the rest of her life.’’
Pastor Magdalena Schwartz, who has been counseling the Duran family, said they are feeling incredible sadness about the death of little Sebastian.
But she is impressed by the lack of anger expressed by Gerardo Duran, the boy’s father.
“He said, ‘I have to accept God’s will. This really impressed me, to hear it,’’ she said. “I don’t hear a complaint; they are not angry. They are very upset and in a lot of pain.’’
She said Edgar Duran, 16, who was wounded, is suffering survivor’s guilt, wondering why his baby brother was fatally wounded while he managed somehow to survive.
“He feels guilty. I told him, the best way is to think about how much he loved his little brother,’’ Schwartz said.
She said the family is hurting financially. Anyone wishing to contribute can go to their Go Fund Me page at gf.me/u/y5j2pj.
Mesa police, Mayor John Giles, Vice Mayor Mark Freeman and Councilman Francisco Heredia met with the public last Wednesday to reassure them that everything humanly possible is being done to track down the killer.
But Assistant Police Chief Ed Wessing said police still need the public’s help in solving the case. He urged anyone with even the slightest bit of information to come forward and call 480-644-2211. A $20,000 reward is being offered for information leading to an arrest.
“Our primary focus is on justice for the victims,’’ Wessing said. “We want to make sure the resolution is right, that we have an ironclad case.’’
“We have a lot of work left to do. We are making progress,’’ Wessing said. “There is a sense of urgency in this investigation. We are working it religiously.’’
He said police still suspect the shooting may be linked to a domestic violence incident earlier in the night, when someone broke up a fight between a man and a woman.
But the man and woman were gone by the time officers arrived and a link between the domestic violence incident and the slaying has not been established, Wessing said.
Detectives also served a search warrant in Phoenix and seized a Kia Soul, similar to the box-shaped SUV that witnesses reported seeing as it fled from the shooting.
Again, Wessing said a connection between the Soul and the shooting has not been established. “We still need someone in the community to step up and give us information,’’ Wessing said.
Police received a mixed reception from the group of about 20 residents who attended the community meeting.
Some praised police for their responsiveness to other, unrelated crime issues in nearby Dobson Ranch while others questioned whether the area is getting adequate police attention.
“There is an element that has come into the area of Dobson and Guadalupe. I am definitely seeing an uptick,’’ one resident said.
Robert Russo, a Mesa resident, said that a total 10 people have been shot in the area in the past year or so.
He criticized police for not providing more security after the domestic violence incident, with a large crowd gathered for the food truck event.
“There is no game plan in place, they have had 10 people shot there,’’ Russo said, describing the intersection as a “bad area.’’
But Commander Gina Nesbit of the Fiesta District, quickly took exception to that and Wessing said there is no connection between the three incidents Russo was lumping together.
“We would not necessarily call Dobson and Guadalupe a bad area,’’ Nesbit said. “These two homicides we are talking about are not from the area.’’
Nesbit said police did not have enough personnel to act as security guards at the food event. Once it was determined the combatants in the domestic altercation had left, officers needed to return to their normal patrol duties and answer other calls.
The Fiesta District has about 115 officers, covering 15 square miles and a population of about 80,000 residents. The district has five ongoing crime-fighting initiatives, Nesbit said, without providing additional details.
One incident described by Russo was an armed robbery that was committed inside a car parked outside the convenience store at Dobson and Guadalupe early in the morning on July 1, according to court records.
Police said the victim and suspect knew each other and one robbed the other, obtaining $1,000 in cash and other items.
Acting on a tip, police later arrested Isaiah Lee Armstrong, 19, in Glendale and accused him of first-degree murder.
The victim was found shot inside the car and later died at a hospital, the police report said.
The third shooting stemmed from a fight outside a bar, involving a dispute between two men, Wessing said.