A California man is accused of getting upset after a woman at a family birthday party rejected him, following her from the party and shooting her 10-month-old daughter in the head, police officials said Sunday.
Marcos Antonio Echartea, 23, is charged with three counts of attempted murder in the shooting of Fayth Percy, Fresno police Chief Jerry Dyer announced at a news conference. Echartea was booked into the Fresno County Jail.
County court records show Echartea is also charged with three counts of assault with a firearm, three counts of shooting at an occupied motor vehicle and possession of a firearm by a felon.
“It should shock the conscience of every person in Fresno to know that we have a 10-month-old baby lying in the hospital fighting for her life,” the chief said, according to ABC30 in Fresno.
Dyer, who was also updating the media on two recent homicide cases within the city, called the shooting of Fayth the “most disturbing” of the three incidents.
“Bullets do not have eyes,” Dyer said. “When these gangsters or violent criminals fire rounds indiscriminately, sometimes those rounds hit unintended targets. And that’s the consequences of firing a round into a vehicle.”
The police chief said a 911 call came in at 4:05 a.m. Sunday from a man who said he was rushing a baby who had been shot to a hospital. Fresno police officers met the man along the way and began to render first aid to the infant.
Paramedics took Fayth to the hospital, where she underwent surgery to remove bullet fragments from her head, Dyer said. She was listed in critical, but stable condition.
Dyer said investigators learned Fayth was at the party with her 18-year-old mother, Deziree Menagh, when Menagh ran into Echartea, whom she had met just once about a week before the party. Menagh was inside the home, which was near her own house.
“While (Echartea) was inside the residence with her, he attempted to grab her hand. She pulled away,” Dyer said.
Menagh went outside and told family and friends what happened. Echartea soon followed her outside. While out on the porch, he tried to force Menagh to sit on his lap, the chief said.
Menagh again pulled away and went inside to get her daughter so they could leave the party. She and Fayth got into a car belonging to a male friend, who drove away.
The driver made a U-turn and was parking at an intersection several houses down from the party when he and Menagh noticed Echartea walking quickly toward them, Dyer said.
“At some point when he got close, he pulled out a handgun and fired three rounds into the driver’s side window, which was up,” Dyer said. “One of those rounds struck baby Fayth on the side of the head as she was being held by her mother.”
Watch the Fresno Police Department’s news conference on the shooting below.
Dyer said the glass of the window slowed down the bullet’s velocity, allowing Fayth to survive the initial impact of the shooting.
“Had the window been down, we may be talking about the murder of a 10-month-old child in our city today,” he said.
Dyer said it was unclear Sunday why Menagh and her friend had parked near the scene of the party but reiterated that Menagh lived nearby. He said she and her friend may have parked to wait for Echartea to leave the area so she could safely go home.
Detectives who went to the house where the party took place found Echartea there and took him into custody.
“When our detectives brought him downtown, he had no remorse,” Dyer said, according to ABC30. “He had just shot a 10-month-old baby and didn’t even seem to care, or it didn't faze him.”
Dyer said Echartea was also wanted in connection with a shooting that took place May 27 less than five miles from the scene of Sunday’s shooting. In that incident, Echartea is accused of firing several shots into a home.
That shooting was also over a woman, the chief said.
“The residence is occupied by Echartea’s ex-girlfriend’s boyfriend,” Dyer said.
One of the bullets fired that night penetrated the wall of the home and nearly struck a 1-year-old infant.
“That bullet landed approximately one foot from where the baby was,” the chief said.
Echartea is charged in that case with assault with a firearm, possession of a firearm by a felon, discharging a firearm at an inhabited dwelling, discharging a firearm with gross negligence, assault with a semiautomatic firearm and shooting at another person from a moving vehicle, according to Fresno County court records.
“(It is) very apparent that Marcos Echartea has no regard for human life, even a baby,” the chief said. “We have every reason to believe that Marcos Echartea knew that baby Fayth was in that vehicle when he fired three rounds into that vehicle earlier this morning.”
Dyer said police officials and investigators are praying that Fayth not only survives her injuries but also makes a full recovery. He said he spent time at the hospital with Menagh and the baby’s father, Bennie Percy, 27, before the news conference.
“I know the parents are broken. They’re hurting,” Dyer said. “We held hands at the hospital and prayed over the baby. We’re asking that everyone in this community come together and pray for baby Fayth for a complete recovery.”
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