A heart-wrenching scene unfolded on the Courtney Campbell Causeway in Tampa as a stray bullet claimed the life of a seven-year-old boy on July 4th. The spot where the tragic incident occurred is now adorned with touching tributes of teddy bears and toy trucks.
It has been a month since the devastating loss of Yitzian Torres Garcia, and his family continues to seek justice for his untimely death. In a heartfelt gesture, they have hung signs to celebrate what would have been his eighth birthday, affectionately calling him “Bootie.”
“We have a 7-year-old that was killed,” Tampa Police Chief Lee Bercaw said. “His birthday should have been today turning eight, but his [family] is in Puerto Rico, having a memorial service.”
A summer trip to visit his beloved grandparents turned into a devastating nightmare for Torres Garcia. Instead of celebrating his eighth birthday with family in Tampa, they now mourn his untimely death in Puerto Rico.
A Heartbreaking Plea for Justice
A haunting sign near the bay-side spot where Torres Garcia lost his life serves as a desperate cry from the grave, begging for justice to be served.
“I was seven years old and I don’t think anyone deserves to die at the short age when my life just started,” it reads. “I’m just asking for your help to find out who did this to me. Me and my family need to find justice.”
Tampa police have not made any arrests in the case yet, and they have not released any information about potential suspects. However, there were plenty of witnesses to the shooting, which took place during a busy fireworks display on the causeway.
Torres Garcia and his grandfather were at the scene that night to enjoy the fireworks. However, as they were celebrating, Garcia’s grandfather, Juan Carlos Hernandez, started feeling uneasy due to an argument between two groups nearby. One group was upset with jet skiers who were too close to children playing in the water.
Hernandez decided to keep his distance, but eventually, he heard gunshots.
“One guy, he started shooting to the air,” Hernandez recounted the day after the incident.
Hernandez says he grabbed his grandson and pulled him into his truck for cover.
“I heard one [bullet] on the glass and then the other one, and I grabbed my son down and I feel the shot on my own hand. When I saw my kid, he was shot with the same bullet,” Hernandez said.
Tragedy strikes as a bullet not only severs Hernandez’s finger but also becomes lodged in the head of a young boy. Grieving family members are adamant that the individual responsible for recklessly firing into a crowd, robbing an innocent child of their life, must face consequences and not be permitted to go unpunished.
“People need to know not to take out guns just for fun. Guns are for protection, not to be used as toys. Guns are not toys,” Torres Garcia’s aunt, Stephanie Arroyo Garcia, said during a vigil last month. “We just want justice. Whoever did that, we just want justice.”
Crime Stoppers of Tampa Bay just raised the reward to $10,000 for valuable information that helps catch criminals.
“Crime Stoppers of Tampa Bay is offering a reward of up to $5,500 for information that leads to the identification and arrest of the unknown suspect(s) involved in this case. In addition, reward monies of up to $4,500 are now available through the Florida Association of Crime Stoppers, in partnership with the Florida Office of Attorney General,” said Kelly McLaren, executive director of Crimestoppers of Tampa Bay. “The enhanced reward monies are available through June 30, 2024. The tip must come through the Crime Stoppers program and lead to the identification and arrest of the suspect(s) to be eligible for the enhanced reward.”
Get rewarded with $5,000 by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for providing valuable tips that lead to the arrest and conviction of those responsible.
“The Tampa Bay community tragically lost Yitzian Torres Garcia due to senseless gun violence. FDLE stands in partnership with Tampa P.D. both, investigative and forensically, to bring those responsible for this murder to justice. If you have information concerning this unimaginable event, I implore you to please come forward. The family and the community deserve justice,” said SAC Mark Brutnell.
Reported By Wfla.