Josefina Lopez blessed her 16-year-old grandson Monday night as he lay critically injured in a hospital bed from a gunshot wound to the head.

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Josefina Lopez blessed her 16-year-old grandson Monday night as he lay critically injured in a hospital bed from a gunshot wound to the head. She made the sign of the cross and said goodbye to the boy everyone called “Nando.”

“He’s between life and death,” Lopez, 72, said through an interpreter yesterday. She said the family decided they would remove him from machines keeping him alive. Hours later, he was pronounced dead at Seattle’s Harborview Medical Center, a nursing supervisor said.

Fernando Esqueda was shot while riding in a car driven by his 18-year-old brother, Mario, family members said. Police said the two were stopped at a stoplight at Eighth Avenue South and South Cloverdale Street in South Park on Monday evening when a red sports car pulled alongside the brothers’ vehicle and fired at least two rounds.

Witnesses told police two males were in the red car, but officials didn’t know whether the driver or passenger fired the shots. Two casings from a semi-automatic handgun were found in the street, said Seattle police spokesman Sean Whitcomb. Police were still trying to determine a motive.

After the shooting, Mario Esqueda sped along Eighth Avenue, stopping his car in the middle of the street outside the South Park Community Center, where Roy Anaya was playing baseball with his two sons.

“We were just playing some ball and we hear some gunshots, but I wasn’t sure if it was gunshots or fireworks or what,” said Anaya, 44. “Next thing you know, I saw a white car zooming down the street, and the driver stopped right smack in the middle of the street.”

The driver, he said, jumped out and began yelling for someone to call 911.

“I ran around the fence to where this guy was standing in the street, hysterical,” Anaya said. He saw a younger boy in the passenger seat, his head cocked back, gasping for breath. Another man came to help and kept repeating “breathe, breathe” to the boy in Spanish, Anaya said.

“Nando, he’s a good kid — both of them are,” Anaya said of the brothers. “I wonder why they’d want to shoot him — he’s never done” anything to anyone.

Seattle School District spokesman Peter Daniels confirmed yesterday that Fernando Esqueda was a ninth-grader at Cleveland High School. Officials notified the health and nursing staff of the shooting yesterday, should any students need counseling, Daniels said.

Lopez said her grandson was strong and tall and could nearly reach the ceiling of the small kitchen in the family’s house on South Thistle Street, a couple of blocks from where the shooting occurred. “Cuerpazo de señor,” she said, saying the 16-year-old had the body of a man.

A quiet and serious boy, Fernando Esqueda enjoyed playing baseball with neighborhood kids and watching TV. The family, who moved to the area 10 years ago from Mexico, is devastated, Lopez said. He was the second of five children.

For Christmas, Lopez said, her grandson received a portable stereo. He spent hours playing it, she said, and was listening to it Monday night before he and his brother went out.

Yesterday, the stereo remained on the kitchen table, Lopez said.

“That’s where it’s going to stay. Something to remember him by,” she said.

Staff reporters Beth Kaiman and Bob Young and news producer Robert Hernandez contributed to this report.

Sara Jean Green: 206-515-5654 or