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By Michael Fagans / The Californian
BY COURTENAY EDELHART Californian staff writer email@example.com
Two-year-old Ra-mya Robinson's eyes lit up when she saw the makeshift shrine in front of her apartment building.
There were flowers, candles and stuffed animals, but when she reached for a teddy bear, her mother pulled her back.
The Secret Witness Program is offering a reward of up to $5,000 for information in the case of the toddler fatally struck by a stray bullet Monday in the 1200 block of Virginia Avenue.
Anyone with information on the identity of any of the people involved in the shooting death of 2-year-old Ka-mya Robinson is urged to call the Bakersfield Police Department at (661) 326-7111 or Detective James Moore at (661) 326-3540.
Anonymous and confidential information can be provided through Secret Witness at (661) 322-4040.
You can also send an anonymous text message by entering 274637 into a mobile phone and text BPDCRIMES along with your message. The text is sent to the police and the sender remains completely anonymous.
Tips can also be anonymously sent through the smartphone "TipSubmit" mobile app or via email at https://www.tipsubmit.com.
"No, baby, that's for Ka-mya," Katie Wimbley said gently.
The little girl's face fell.
Ra-mya was playing outside with her identical twin sister, Ka-mya, when the sister was gunned down Monday night.
Police said the toddler was an innocent bystander struck by a stray bullet after a fight broke out in the 1200 block of Virginia Avenue in southeast Bakersfield. The family didn't know any of the men in two groups that were arguing in front of their apartment when gunfire rang out about 7 p.m., relatives said.
Wimbley and others who loved the child were shell shocked Tuesday, trying to process the tragedy. They cried and hugged and comforted one another.
"She was a happy baby. Very open and funny," Wimbley said, her eyes welling with tears. "She loved to play."
Wimbley, 25, was at school when a babysitter told her what happened. Her boyfriend got there first and whisked Ka-mya into his car to get help after deciding the ambulance was taking too long. He flagged down a sheriff's deputy en route to the hospital, and the deputy summoned medical help.
The girl died at Kern Medical Center at 8:37 p.m.
The Secret Witness Program is offering a reward of up to $5,000 for information on the shooter, who as of Tuesday had not been identified or located.
One of the groups arguing Monday night was described as Hispanic males occupying a dark blue possible Lincoln Navigator, police said. A witness told authorities the shots possibly came from the Navigator.
In the meantime, a peace rally was hastily organized Tuesday at a vacant lot on the opposite corner of the child's three-unit apartment building. There were prayers, speeches, music and games with prizes for children.
Mayor Harvey Hall and Kern County Fifth District Supervisor Karen Goh joined community leaders from Stop the Violence and Stay Focused Ministries in expressing dismay over the girl's death.
Stop the Violence Executive Director Sean Battle said he felt "disgust, disappointment, fear, all of that" when he first learned of the shooting.
Stay Focused Ministries Director Manuel Carrizalez said he had spent much of the day working to make sure the incident didn't spark racial tension. The slain toddler was black.
"This isn't a black or brown or white issue," Carrizalez said. "Any time you have a child killed it's a tragedy for the whole community. We're just here to pray for the family. I can't imagine the heartache this mother is going through, but we want to support the family that's hurting right now."
Wimbley was too overcome with emotion to participate in the rally, but peered over a fence at the crowd, a dazed expression on her face.
A steady stream of loved ones stopped by to offer condolences. Her boyfriend's sister, Keanna Francisco, was among them.
Francisco said the surviving twin, who she considers her niece, understands exactly what happened to her sister Monday night.
"She knows as much as you and I know," Francisco said. "It's scary how much she knows."
Asked how Ra-mya is holding up, Francisco swallowed hard before she spoke.
"They usually sleep clinched together," she said. "Last night she slept alone, rolled up in a ball."
Francisco said she's grateful her own children weren't mowed down in the violence. "We're right here in the neighborhood. They're over here all the time," she said.
And to make matters worse, even as she grieved, Francisco was regularly calling to check on a sister with cancer who was undergoing brain surgery Tuesday.
"It's crazy. This day is crazy," she said.
Neighbor Jeffery Littlejohn, 17, stopped by the apartment, too. He babysat the girls occasionally and couldn't believe what had happened.
"She was like any little 2-year-old girl, happy and sweet," he said. "She was just learning how to say my name."
The crowd also included people who didn't know the family but were moved to honor the girl's memory.
Irene Salas, 41, lives nearby and hours before the rally was the first to lovingly place candles and flowers against the apartment building's chain-link fence.
"I don't know them but I used to see the little girl out playing all the time. I have granddaughters that age," she said, wiping away a tear. "The family never gave anybody any trouble, as far as I know. This just doesn't make any sense. People are crazy.
"How could anybody be so heartless, shooting a gun with children around?"