Madera teen dies after shielding his brother from gunfire

MADERA, Calif.

A Madera family is spending their Christmas planning a funeral after their teenage son was gunned down Monday night.

Officers say the boy was walking with his younger brother down their street when a man came up and started firing a large caliber revolver.

Investigators say Carlos Ponce and his brother were on their way to play Xbox at a friend's house. But on the way there were confronted by a gang member with a gun. When bullets started flying officers say Carlos hovered over his little brother to protect him.

Fernando Ponce is only 13 years old and will be haunted forever by what he witnessed Monday night.

"I got hella scared and I didn't know what to do," said Ponce. "I can't do nothing. I couldn't leave him there so I had to pick him up and I had to do something, that's when some other people came out."

Fernando says he and his brother were walking down Lacreta Avenue when they realized they were being followed. Investigators say the two ran to a house nearby and started banging on the door begging for help, but the neighbor didn't open in time and gunman started firing.

Madera police say the victim, 15 year old Carlos Ponce was not a gang member. But the area where he lives is plagued with gang violence. so much so lately, police have made the northeast Madera neighborhood the focus of a gang crackdown. The street fights and shootings had slowed, until Monday night.

"There is no indication whatsoever that they were doing anything that any other 15 or 13 year old kid would be doing," said Madera Police Detective Daniel Foss. "They weren't wearing gang colors. If you saw them now, you'd probably just think it's a normal kid."

The dark clothes were misinterpreted as rival gang attire according to police. Investigators say a gang member shot Carlos several times at close range.

Christmas Eve, Carlos' mother was distraught as she left her home to make funeral plans. Carlos was a 10th grader at Madera South High School, his brother Fernando is in 7th grade.

Fernando says Carlos always looked after him so Monday night was no different. Police say it appears Carlos crouched over his brother during the violence, shielding him from taking any rounds.

Detective Daniel Foss said, "The 13 year old turned his back and tried to duck down and the way that the 15 year old was hit and where he was hit, I think he tried to cover his brother."

Ponce added, "My brother took all the bullets for me."

Police have not released any information about the suspect, but they have not made any arrests.

The Christmas celebration has now been put on hold, while this family plans a rosary and car washes to pay for the funeral.

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