Woman killed in front of her son while asking police for help, officials say

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The victim, a Metro bus driver, was identified by the coroner's office Thursday as Denise Chiffon Berry. She died on scene. (Credit: DMV)

HAWTHORNE, Calif. — A 44-year-old woman was fatally shot in front of her 12-year-old son as they approached a police officer for help just outside of Los Angeles.

The victim, Denise Chiffon Berry, had stopped beside a police officer to voice her concerns about a car she thought was following her, according to KTLA.

The gunman then got out of the car and fired into Berry’s vehicle, striking her and her son. The officer returned fire, killing the shooter.

Berry, a Metro bus driver, died on the scene. Her 12-year-old son ran away, despite gunshot wounds, and talked to investigators before undergoing surgery, authorities told KTLA.

According to authorities, the victims laughed at the gunman before the shooting, and that appeared to be the only connection between them.

The victims may have been targeted after the mother and son chuckled at one of the people in the other car hanging his feet out of the window, authorities told the Daily Breeze.

“This is what the little boy is saying,” Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Lt. Dave Coleman told the newspaper. “Mommy says, ‘Look at that, isn’t that funny?’ and they made eye contact. She drove on and they began following her.”

The shooting occurred after Berry pulled up beside a police car, telling the officer she was worried she was being followed. The officer told Berry to pull up in front of the car so he could help her.

It was at that moment the shooter arrived and opened fire with two handguns.

Two other men were in the car with the shooter, the driver and backseat passenger. The driver was arrested on suspicion of murder and conspiracy, while the backseat passenger was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy.

They were being held on $1 million bail each.


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