A young Florida mother was shot to death on Tuesday night while riding in a car with her 1-year-old baby birl in her arms and her 2-year-old daughter in the backseat, who "barely" missed getting shot after her car seat was struck by a bullet, say police.
On Tuesday at about 6:15 p.m., St. Petersburg Police responded to a call about a shooting at 2216 18th Ave. South in St. Petersburg and found a young woman, later identified as K'Mia Simmons, 21, suffering from a gunshot wound, the department says in a release.
Simmons was in the passenger seat of a dark-colored Volvo driven by a man that was heading north on 22nd St. South at 18th Ave. South when someone fired shots at them from another car, the release says.
Simmons' two daughters were not injured, though the toddler in the back seat almost got shot, Chief Anthony Holloway said at a press conference on Wednesday.
One of the bullets "went right through the booster seat, so it was probably the position of the baby — that's the only reason why that baby is alive today," Holloway said.
"That one-year-old baby was also at risk," he added.
Simmons was rushed to a local hospital with serious injuries where she later died.
Simmons "was not the intended target," he said, "but that bullet struck and killed her, so now those two children do not have a mother, that family doesn't have a sister, aunt…daughter. She is gone."
Police believe the suspected gunman, who stopped the car and got out and began shooting, was "looking" for whoever was driving the Volvo, he said. "They were going after that driver."
Holloway said the department is asking the driver to come talk to detectives.
The driver is the father of one of Simmons' children, her family told Fox 13 Tampa Bay.
Holloway said the driver fled the scene with the two children, taking them to Simmons' family and leaving Simmons alone in the car.
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As police investigate, her family is mourning Simmons' loss and pleading for the community's help in finding her killer.
"If anyone has any information concerning what happened to my baby, K'Mia, please come forward to the police department," Simmons' mother, community leader Linda Simmons said at a press conference Thursday.
As the youngest of 7 children, 'K'Mia was my first born," Linda said. "I had five girls and two boys, so she is my baby."
K'Mia was going to college to become a nurse but had dreams of one day becoming a gynecologist and opening a practice with one of her older sisters, who aspires to be an OB/GYN, Linda said.
"So this is a hard pill to swallow," she said.
So is knowing that K'Mia's little girls will grow up without their mother, she said.
"Their mother is all that they know," she said. K'Mia's children "were always at her hip. She was fully committed to her children. She was not one to go to clubs and hang out."
When the shots rang out, she pointed out, K'Mia "covered her baby with her body to make sure that nothing happened to her baby."
"It's sad that we have to go through this," she said. "We are not the first family [to lose a loved one to gun violence.] The gun violence has got to stop."
"I want justice for her," she said. "She was a young lady who did not deserve this."
Anyone with information on the shooting is asked to call St. Petersburg Police at 727-893-7780, or call Crime Stoppers of Pinellas at 800-873-TIPS. You may be eligible for a reward of up to $5,000.
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