Kendra Lewis: 27-year-old mom shot dead in crossfire; daughter in back seat
Kendra La Sheka Lewis was a 27-year-old mother minding her business. She had cut through the parking lot of the Citgo at Pine Hills and Silver Star in Orlando, Florida when a commotion began near by.
In a split second, a bullet had shot through the passenger side window of her blue Toyota Corolla. It struck Lewis in the face. Her 5-year-old daughter -- unharmed -- was in the back seat.
Police officials are looking for up to three young men who witnesses say scrambled away in a white SUV after the shooting.
The Orange County Sheriff's Office said it appears Lewis' death was an accident , perhaps a stray bullet, but they don't know for sure.
The fact that the horrific shooting of a young mother was a case of someone just being in the wrong place at the wrong time doesn't sit well with the community. And it is no excuse, said local resident Mark Brockers, who spoke to WFTV. "It's tragic, you know. Unfortunately, people have guns ... nobody's particularly safe in this neighborhood, and there's nothing you can do."
Orange County sheriff's Capt. Angelo Nieves told local media that they are investigating the case, but need the public's help. Most of the witnesses -- between 50 to 75 people -- are not talking.
Lewis was rushed to the hospital, but there was little doctors could do. She was pronounced dead on Thursday.
Pine Hills resident Leonie Dowdie, 26, was shopping nearby when she heard the commotion and ran over, only to see the worst of sights: A woman behind the wheel of car, bleeding profusely from the face, one of her eyes swollen incredibly.
By then, first responders had arrived and began trying to save her life.
“Twenty minutes before I picked up my sibling. It could have been anybody. It could have been us, you know. So it’s a sad case that something like that went on,” Omar Torres told WFTV.
Dowdie said violence in the area has gotten out of control.
"It's like every day or ever other day. It just won't stop," Dowdie told the Orlando Sentinel. "You can't even leave your house or get gas without being shot."
A witness who didn't want to be identified told WFTV, "She was lying face down on her steering wheel. I didn't want to get too close to the car."
“I just did a quick prayer, man, because I didn't know if she was dead. She was laid out," the witness told the TV station. “It could have happened to any of us.”
The witness said the thing that will stick with him is the expression on Lewis' face moments after the shooting.
“I'm just imagining what she is going to go through in the rest of her life because she has got to deal with that and that's her mom, you know, she saw exactly what happened, everybody didn’t see exactly what she saw," the witness told WFTV.
Students from the closest school, Evans High, often gather at the gas station and cause trouble. But when several gunshots rang out, a gas station attendant said that he knew that this was something different. Up to 75 people were outside the gas station, according to reports.
One witness told police that he saw a black teenage male climb into an SUV and speed off. He was 5-foot, 8 inches and weighed about 180 pounds. There were possibly two others with him.