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One-year-old baby shot dead in pushchair on New York streets

Police are 'aggressively following' leads in manhunt for gunman who they believe was targeting the child's father

A baby in a pushchair in New York has been shot in the face and killed, leading to a police manhunt for the gunman responsible.

One-year-old boy Antiq Hennis was hit in a hail of bullets which officers believe was aimed at his father, a man with a criminal record and reported contacts to the city’s underground.

New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said that authorities had a number of leads, and believed the incident to be gang-related.

The boy’s father, Anthony Hennis, had just been to see the baby’s mother and was taking the child to visit his great-grandmother. Mr Hennis, 21, was crossing the road with the buggy in the infamously dangerous Brownsville neighbourhood when a gunman opened fire at about 7.20pm, police said.

Mr Hennis’s grandmother Lenore Steele told reporters at the site of the incident that she had heard the shots, after which the 21-year-old ran up to her.

“He fell on the ground and said, ‘Grandma, my baby got shot! My baby got shot, Grandma!’

"He was such a beautiful little baby, smiling and talking to everybody," Ms Steele said, joined at the press conference by community group leaders and mayoral candidate Bill Thompson.

Commissioner Kelly said that despite nearby residents’ assertions that they knew who the killer was, Mr Hennis himself was refusing to cooperate with the ongoing investigation.

"We have some leads, and those leads are being aggressively followed," the commissioner said.

Initial details emerged that four shots had been fired, with .45-caliber shell casings found on the street corner and multiple bullet holes in the pushchair. One of the shots hit Antiq in the left side of his face, and he was pronounced dead on arrival at hospital.

Speaking at the city’s annual West Indian Day Parade not far from the site of the shooting, Mayor Michael Bloomberg called the killing "a tragedy for his family, for this community, for the entire city".

And while murder statistics in New York hit a record low last year, and are on track to be down again in 2013, the incident came just a few days after an 18-year-old man in Georgia was convicted of shooting to death a 13-month-old boy.

In March this year, a woman walking home from a post office when she was accosted by a gunman who demanded her purse, then shot her in the leg and fired a shot at the child in his stroller after she told him she had no money, authorities said.

And in another case of violence toward toddlers in New York City, 3-year-old Tharell Edward was shot in the head and wounded on 24 August as he slept in his family's Brooklyn apartment while an acquaintance was looking after him.