A community is searching for answers after an 18-year-old girl was gunned down last week in what authorities have called a “senseless homicide.”
Victoria Barrios was killed during a drive-by in Santa Ana, California just after midnight on August 30, The Orange County Register reports. When officers arrived on the scene, they found Barrios and a boy both injured, but while the second teen survived his injuries, Barrios did not, and was pronounced dead at the scene.
During a press conference Tuesday, Santa Ana Police Chief David Valentin called the death of Barrios, who was shot in the upper torso, a “senseless homicide,” The Orange County Register reports. A $50,000 reward is being offered for any information leading to the arrest of suspects linked to the killing. Authorities believe that the drive-by was gang-related, and that Barrios was an unintended victim, according to the outlet.
Although neither victim had any gang affiliations, witnesses reported that the gunman, who shot from the backseat of a moving vehicle, shouted something before firing, prompting police to suspect gang activity, according to KTLA.
Santa Ana police released surveillance footage of the shooting on Tuesday, alongside a description of the vehicle, which they say was a “newer” red or maroon full size SUV. The five-second clip shows what appears to be someone shooting from the open rear passenger-side door.
Luis Almazan, who lives near the scene of the shooting and witnessed it, told KTLA that the gunman shot five times and paused before each one.
“Every shot was paced,” he said. “It was one shot. Pause. One shot. Pause. And so on for five shots and from there, it was utter silence.”
During Tuesday’s press conference, the victim’s mother, Eva Barrios, said that her daughter, who graduated from high school last year, was “always singing, laughing and dancing,” according to The Orange County Register.
“She had the biggest smile, the most wonderful laugh,” she recalled.
Victoria Barrios was interested in criminal justice and “had the sass to be a probation officer or a caseworker dealing with troubled youth,” her mother said.
Eva Barrios was in tears as she asked anyone with information on who killed her daughter to come forward, KABC reports.
“Please put yourselves in our position,” she said. “I lost my baby. Someone left her there to die in the street like an animal.”
Police are still investigating, although no suspects have been named yet. Anyone with any information regarding the case has been urged to contact the Santa Ana Police Department’s tip line at 714-245-8390. Information can also be shared by contacting Orange County Crime Stoppers at https://occrimestoppers.org/.
Crime Time is your destination for true crime stories from around the world, breaking crime news, and information about Oxygen's original true crime shows and documentaries. Sign up for our Crime Time Newsletter and subscribe to our true crime podcast Martinis & Murder for all the best true crime content.