[UPDATED] Pasadena police officers and firefighters lined the streets Thursday evening to provide a hero’s welcome for a 11-year-old boy upon his release from a hospital, where he was being treated for more than a month after being shot and severely wounded while playing in his front yard.
Mario Ramirez, who celebrated his 11th birthday at the hospital on March 4, had a smile on his face as he greeted first responders from a wheelchair, with braces on one of his arms and one of his legs.
He was playing in the front yard of his home in the area of Parke Street and Garfield Avenue about 3 p.m. on Feb. 14 when he was struck by gunfire police said they suspect was intended for someone else.
But after more than four weeks of recuperation at a hospital, the young victim was ready to return home, police said in a written statement.
“[Pasadena police] officers and our public safety partners from Pasadena Fire Department lined the street to show this brave young man our support, and to wish him well as he continues to recover from the injuries he sustained a few weeks ago,” the statement said. “We hope we made his return home as special as it could be given the difficult circumstances.”
In a comment posted to social media, the Pasadena Fire Department also commended Ramirez for his courage and wished him well.
Station 36 and Battalion 3 joined our police personnel to welcome home Mario who was injured in a shooting and has spent several weeks in the hospital. He’s our definition of a true hero! We wish you a strong recovery Mario and know the entire community supports you. pic.twitter.com/43wSoEPC6H
— Pasadena Fire Dept. (@PasadenaFD) March 19, 2021
“Mario is a true hero and we’re glad we could be there to support him with our valued police partners,” the agency said via Facebook.
The shooting remains unsolved.
Two to three male attackers arrived in a late-model, light-colored four-door sedan before one or more of them exited the vehicle and started shooting, police said at the time.
A motive for the shooting was not clear, but investigators believed the boy was not the intended target of the gunfire, according to Lt. William Grisafe.
The community has rallied around the young victim and his family, as well.
An online fundraiser to help the boy on his road to recovery in the wake of the shooting garnered thousands of dollars in donations within an hour of being established at https://www.gofundme.com/f/recovery-for-mario-ramirez. As of Friday, the donations had grown to more than $47,000.
Ramirez, who was 10 years old at the time of the shooting, turned 11 while hospitalized on March 4, according to family.
He loves basketball and the Los Angeles Lakers, according to a statement accompanying the fundraiser.
“With the help of the Mayor of the City Of Pasadena, the Los Angeles Lakers heard Mario’s story and graciously sent over some gifts for him,” the statement said.
Anyone with information was urged to contact the Pasadena Police Department at (626) 744-4501. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-8477.