A California mom whose toddler was killed by a stray bullet on a highway is pleading for help tracking down her son’s killer, saying her devastated family “cannot accept” his tragic slaying.
Jasper Wu, a 23-month-old Fremont boy, was shot Saturday while sleeping in a car seat inside a white Lexus sedan with his mother, Cherry An, his aunt and two cousins along the southbound lanes of Interstate 880 in Oakland.
Jasper, who was shot in the forehead, was caught in suspected gang crossfire, sources told KGO-TV. His heartbroken mother also made a heartfelt plea to the station Monday, saying she’s been unable to come to grips with the death of her only child.
“This is such a huge loss to us,” An told the station through a translator. “We cannot accept his departure. I do want to call on the community for your help. If you were on [Interstate] 880 at that time, please give us any information that you have.”
“The CHP Golden Gate Division is investigating the shooting,” Gonzalez said California Highway Patrol Sgt. Raul Gonzalez said. “We cannot comment any further at this time.”
Gonzalez said he had no information on whether investigators believe the gunfire was gang-related, but detectives at the scene found evidence that Jasper and his car were not the intended targets, CHP officials said in a statement Monday.
Some 76 freeway shootings have been reported in Alameda County in the last 12 months, primarily on I-880 and I-580, the CHP said.
Jasper is the second child to be fatally shot on a California highway this year. Aiden Leos, 6, was gunned down during a road-rage attack on May 21 and two suspects who fled the 55 Freeway in Orange were arrested two weeks later.
Jasper’s father, meanwhile, never had the chance to meet his son since he lived and worked in China. They had only communicated via FaceTime, KPIX-TV reported.
The boy’s father arrived at San Francisco International Airport late Monday after recently-lifted COVID-19 travel restrictions prevented him from visiting the US. The pair then began planning Jasper’s funeral, the station reported.
Officials in Oakland’s Chinatown are now offering a $10,000 reward for a break in the case. Fremont’s mayor, Lily Mei, is also calling for someone to step forward with information.
“Such a tragedy in terms of the loss of an innocent life,” Mei told KPIX-TV. “We need people to stand up and say this is wrong.”
An online fundraiser set up in Jasper’s memory had eclipsed $207,000 as of Friday.
“His family is devastated and has asked those responsible to turn themselves in,” the website reads.