2 arrested in killing of 9-year-old Anaheim girl

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) – Two gang members were arrested in the killing of a 9-year-old Anaheim girl who was hit by stray gunfire while playing outside her apartment, police said Saturday.

Ricardo Cruz, 19, of Buena Park and Alfredo Miguel Aquino, 20, of Anaheim were arrested late Friday and booked on suspicion of murder in the death of Ximena Meza.

Chief Raul Quezada said detectives who solved the case were fueled by grieving and a search for justice for the little girl. He told Meza’s parents that “no words or actions can fill the void in your hearts.”

Meza was playing with her sisters and other children outside the apartment on Wednesday evening when a white car pulled up and a man got out and opened fire on a group of men nearby.

The neighborhood is in a gang-plagued area of Anaheim – a city famous as the home of Disneyland, but also with its share of urban problems.

Meza was struck in the chest by a single bullet and later died. The intended targets ran and the shooter and a driver fled in the car. No other gunshot victims were found.

Cruz was on parole at the time for a weapons violation and Aquino was on probation, said police Lt. Robert Dunn. He didn’t have information on Aquino’s criminal record.

Both men are documented gang members, though police declined to provide the name of their gang.

The two suspects were each being held on $1 million bail. It was not immediately clear if either had a lawyer.

The men were arrested after police received tips and interviewed witnesses.

It was too soon to determine if anyone would share a $50,000 reward offered for information leading to an arrest and conviction in Meza’s death, Dunn said.

Police said they were confident they had arrested the “active participants” in the crime but would keep investigating. Dunn declined to say if that meant the shooter and driver were in custody.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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