It was the kind of knock on the door at night that everyone fears. Such late night callers rarely bring good news. When Leo Cisneros, or “Mickey” as he is known on the streets, answered the door on November 26, 2007, he says he encountered two men who were there to Rob him. When they pulled out guns and opened fire, family members say Mickey pulled his gun and returned fire. Bullets started flying everywhere.
Leo Cisneros and the two intruders survived the shootout. Leo’s 10-year-old daughter, Auralia, did not. The little girl was struck by a stray bullet during the gunfight. She died of a single gunshot wound to the head — killed in her own home around the Thanksgiving holiday.
The incident occurred at around 10:20 P.M. that Monday night, and it has shaken up everyone in the neighborhood. Children are afraid to play outside and parents fear any knock on the door. About two weeks after the incident, on December 7’th, police announced they had arrested two 19-year-old men in the shooting. Trivi Trujillo and Joshua Rojas were each booked on investigation of first-degree murder and robbery.
A 21-year-old neighbor identified as Lozado lived directly above the apartment where Auralia was killed. He said he heard the gunshots, and later heard the father screaming that his little girl was dead. The errant gunfire made it to his apartment as well. He found one stray bullet lodged near his kitchen window, and another one splintered his front door. Since the shooting, he says his cousins are too scared to sleep alone and go to bed with their parents.
“They shot my friend,” protested Dayloni Bratton, a 7-year-old who played with Auralia. “They should stay in jail for their whole entire life.” Since the shooting, she and her older sister run and hide anytime they hear a knock on the door.
Yet there’s more to this story than first appears. After the girl’s death, local news outlets accessed the Cisneros MySpace page. On it, they found pictures of 10-year-old Auralia flashing gang signs with her mother. Other pictures showed Cisneros pointing a semi¬automatic handgun towards the camera. On the page, his profession was listed as “Street PhD.”
Following the shootout, Auralia’s parents initially told police that they were the victims of a drive-by shooting. They later recanted the story and told the truth after investigators discovered the obvious crime scene at the apartment. As is evident by the family’s social networking page, neighbors report that Cisneros had gang ties. In the end, it looks like the only innocent victim in this was Auralia. Police still believe it was a botched robbery attempt, only they suspect it wasn’t jewelry and electronics the pair were after. Indeed, such late night knockers may have been common place at the Cisneros household.
The family moved out of the apartment a few days after the incident. Our hearts go out to them for their loss. This is yet another senseless death in the long list of children caught up amongst gang violence. It’s also a blunt reminder that indoctrination into gang activity can start early. Losado, the upstairs neighbor we talked about earlier, says he joined the West Side gang when he was 6-years-old. Unfortunately, many times children are the ones who end up paying the price for the sins of their parents.