Police: Custody Dispute Prompted Drive-By Shooting

By: Raquel Maria Dillon,Associated Press Email
By: Raquel Maria Dillon,Associated Press Email

LOS ANGELES (AP) - A woman embroiled in a bitter child custody
dispute was trying to kill her estranged husband when she drove her
boyfriend and her young child to a South Los Angeles home and
watched as her boyfriend fired several shots inside, wounding her
7-year-old niece, police said Thursday.

Officers arrested Toni Valentin, 29, her boyfriend and another
suspect after Valentin's 5-year-old daughter told her father about
the shooting she witnessed, police said.

"Obviously, these people are not proper parents when apparently
their idea of a family outing is to take one of their kids out to a
drive-by shooting," police Deputy Chief Sergio Diaz said.

Valentin, her boyfriend Dante Quezada, 32, and Felipe Carias,
36, who owned the van, were booked on suspicion of attempted murder Wednesday.

Police said Quezada got out of the van Tuesday night and fired
numerous rounds from a semiautomatic pistol at Valentin's
brother-in-law's home, smashing a front window and hitting
Valentin's niece in the chest as she did her homework, Diaz said.
The girl was in stable condition and expected to recover.

Several hours after the shooting, Valentin dropped her daughter
off with her father at his home, Officer Douglas Bell said. The
child tried to tell her father that her mother was involved in a
shooting, but he didn't understand or believe her. Bell said his
daughter's story aroused his suspicions and he reported her story
to police.

Police said Valentin's husband and their five children don't
live in the home, but he lived there previously with his brother.

The couple's divorce has not been finalized, officials said.
Police could not provide details on the custody arrangement for
Valentin's five children, but said the Department of Children and
Family Services will reevaluate it because of the shooting.

"It's incredible that they committed this crime accompanied by
a child. It's typical of this culture that has permeated our city -
the cowardice and stupidity of gangs," Diaz said.

The three suspects were being held on $500,000 bail. It was
unclear if they had retained attorneys.


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