LA prosecutors decline to file charges in Compton baby's death amid further investigation

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Los Angeles County prosecutors declined Wednesday to file charges against a man arrested on suspicion of firing into a house, killing a 1-year-old girl as she slept in the crib.

Instead, they asked the sheriff's department to further investigate Autumn Johnson's shooting death, district attorney's spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said. She said a case was presented to prosecutors, but she declined to comment further on the matter.

Ray Howard Patterson, 23, was arrested Monday and held without bail "based on probable cause to believe he was involved in her murder," the sheriff's department said in a statement.

At the prosecutors' request, he was released Wednesday as the homicide investigation continues, the statement said.

Authorities said they believe a man walked up to a converted garage in Compton where Autumn lived with her parents on Feb. 9 and opened fire, striking the baby in the head, before getting into a Chevrolet Impala, which drove away.

Autumn's mother, Blanche Wandick, was preparing a bottle for her baby when the shots were fired, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Investigators said the gunman was targeting the baby's 24-year-old father, who is an acknowledged gang member. Investigators were still looking for the car's driver.

Autumn's shooting death drew outrage in the southern Los Angeles suburb, which has been plagued by violence.

Hundreds of people attended an anti-violence march in the girl's honor on Sunday, the day after her funeral.

The county, the city of Compton and the FBI have offered $75,000 in rewards for information leading to the capture and conviction of the killers.

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