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Kern County Sheriff's Office: Shooting that injured an 11-year-old may have been gang-related

Jeffrey Street Shooting, Bakersfield, August 16, 2021
Posted at 4:59 PM, Aug 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-17 20:27:21-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Kern County Sheriff deputies continue their investigation into an eastside shooting where multiple children were caught in the crossfire. The KCSO told 23ABC the shooting suspects followed the victim's car for several blocks before firing leading deputies to believe this may be gang-related.

Monday night at around 9:15 p.m. deputies were called to reports of a shooting near Tulare and Jeffery streets in East Bakersfield.

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Covering Kern County

KCSO: 11-year-old shot, expected to survive

6:05 AM, Aug 17, 2021

“We arrived and determined it was an 11-year-old female that had been shot while she was in the passenger seat of her mother’s vehicle,” said Lt. Joel Swanson of the Kern County Sheriff's Office. “They intentionally fired at this vehicle and attempted to hit the vehicle which they did. So at this point, that’s why we suspect that it’s going to be gang members based on their disregard for human life at this point.”

The 11-year-old girl wasn't the only child in the car. Three other children ages 1 to 14-years-old were also inside the car but were not injured.

Lt. Swanson told 23ABC the investigation suggests that suspects in a truck followed the victim's car for several blocks before opening fire.

“At this point, we don’t have any suspect information other than it was at last two people that were driving a truck.”

But they do suspect gang violence may have played a role in the shooting.

“We do suspect that this is going to be a gang-related shooting however this is not something that we approved yet but it is something that we suspect,” said Lt. Swanson. “There could be some retaliation involved in some of these shootings. A lot of these shootings though, we need to prove who did it. Gang shootings are very hard to investigate. A lot of people don’t want to talk. Witnesses don’t want to come forward. Victims sometimes don’t want to be victims. They don’t want to help us solve their cases.”

Lt. Swanson went on to say when it comes to gang violence oftentimes innocent people get caught in the middle.

“We’ve noticed is gang members don’t show any regard for human life, be it adult or children. Shooting into vehicles. Just randomly firing shots. Innocent bystanders often get hit.”


WATCH THE FULL INTERVIEW WITH LT. SWANSON:

23ABC INTERVIEW: KCSO Lt. Joel Swanson talks about shooting of 11-year-old


Adding a somber note homicides rates are continuing to rise across the county.

“Over the past year, our homicides are up. The last year we set a record for homicides that we’ve had and this year, us and the Bakersfield Police Department, we are on pace to surpass those numbers,” explained Lt. Swanson.

Sheriff deputies are still looking for witnesses to the shooting. If you have any information that can help solve this crime, please call KCSO or the Secret Witness Hotline at (661) 322-4040.

According to the KCSO, the 11-year-old went into surgery Tuesday afternoon but her condition is no longer life-threatening and she is expected to survive.