LOS ANGELES (AFP) - A six-year-old boy in Los Angeles was killed in a "road rage" incident as he was being driven to school, US media reported, the latest of a growing number of young victims of gun violence in the United States.
The incident on Friday (May 21) appeared in some ways typical of the way a moment of anger, coupled with pervasive gun ownership, can take a high collateral toll.
It began, according to media reports, when a woman was driving on the 55 Freeway with her young son, identified as Aiden Leos, in the back.
In what police said was a case of road rage - after one car apparently cut off another - someone suddenly fired a single shot from behind, striking the rear of the Leos car and piercing Aiden's back, news media reported.
"Mommy, my tummy hurts!" Aiden reportedly cried, as his panicked mother quickly pulled over.
An off-duty policeman stopped and performed CPR and an ambulance then rushed Aiden to a hospital, but he was pronounced dead.
California state patrolman Florentino Olivera told the Los Angeles Times it was "an isolated road-rage incident".
Police shut down the busy 55 Freeway for hours while they investigated. They said they are looking for a white sedan with a male and female occupant.
In an equally senseless incident in Washington this week, a family group was standing on a sidewalk chatting when a man on an electric scooter sped through, according to Washington police chief Robert Contee.
When the woman shouted at the man to slow down, witnesses said, he stopped, pulled on a black mask and opened fire, critically wounding both the woman and her five-year-old son.
Police are seeking a 26-year-old homeless man, Mr Contee said.
Gun violence surged across the United States last year - both mass shootings and the less-publicized incidents often involving family members or acquaintances.
Gun sales jumped at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic as stress levels rose and the presidential election loomed. Overall, 2020 was one of the most violent years in the United States in decades.
So far this year, 119 children aged 11 and under have died in gun violence, according to the Gun Violence Archive website.
It put the toll for all of 2020 at 299.