Search on for car involved in drive-by shooting of 3-year-old

T’Rhigi Diggs, 3, was sleeping in his car seat when a Dodge Charger pulled alongside his mother's rented SUV and fired the shot that killed him. T’Rhigi had just celebrated his birthday Friday. (Credit: Channel 2 Action News)

At 11:30 on Sunday night, Rashonda Craig was driving in southeast Atlanta when she saw something strange: the barrel of a gun emerging from a car approaching hers.

She thought it was a paintball gun, though the single shot that soon rang sounded real. Her son, a toddler, who’d been sleeping in the backseat, started to cry. A few blocks later, she told Channel 2 Action News, she pulled off the side of Bouldercrest Road near Cecilia Drive and found him shot.

The child was strapped into the rear passenger seat.

T’Rhigi Diggs had turned 3-years-old two days earlier, rewarded with a blue ribbon and a $1 bill pinned to his jacket at the party.

Now he’s gone. DeKalb County police are searching for his killer.

On Monday afternoon, the mother and detectives believed the shooting was possibly an attempted hit gone wrong.

“We don’t believe the mother or the child was the intended target,” police spokeswoman Shiera Campbell said. “We believe they thought someone else was driving the car.”

Detectives had no suspects and were searching for the gray Dodge Charger that the perpetrator or perpetrators drove. It had a temporary tag. The car pulled beside her and fired.

Scant other details were available. Campbell said the mother was offering what she could, but she’s understandably distraught and shaken.

At 10:45 Monday morning, Craig went back to the scene. She came with loved ones to lift her up, but she fell to her knees, screaming and crying in the middle of the road.

“Who would kill my baby?” she said.

She told the story of his last moments through tears and sobs choking her.

Bob Gilman (R) talks with his neighbors at the intersection of Bouldercrest Road and Cecilia Drive Southeast where a mother discovered her 3-year-old boy had been killed in a drive-by shooting Sunday night. STEVE SCHAEFER / SPECIAL TO THE AJC

“My baby was sleeping,” she told Channel 2, “my baby was sleeping in the backseat when I saw the car come past, I saw a paintball gun, but then I heard a real gun. When I heard the gunshot, my baby started crying. I didn’t know my baby was shot. I was thinking maybe he just woke up, the gunshot scared him.”

Police said witnesses saw the mother pull over and find T’Rhigi, strapped into his carseat with a gunshot wound. The spokeswoman declined to say if anyone saw the shooting itself.

Bob Gilman looks over the intersection of Bouldercrest Road and Cecilia Drive Southeast where a Sunday night drive-by shooting resulted in the death of a 3-year-old boy in Atlanta. STEVE SCHAEFER / SPECIAL TO THE AJC

The mother shared photos of her son, who wore thin dreadlocks hanging down over his eyes and sharp clothes, at his birthday party.

On Monday night, loved ones gathered to celebrate him once again, this time with balloons, handheld signs and memories at a vigil.

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