Carrie Jean Melvin and her boyfriend were walking through their Hollywood neighborhood on their way to get some food when someone walked up behind them, aimed a shotgun at her head and pulled the trigger.
The gunman jumped into a black sedan and drove off. Melvin died at the scene.
On Monday, the motive for the brazen attack the night before remained as mysterious as the gunman. An LAPD homicide detective said investigators were still trying to determine why Melvin, 30, was shot and not other people who were on the street at the time. Her boyfriend was unharmed, police said.
There was no initial evidence suggesting the shooting was part of a botched robbery, Det. John Skaggs said. And there was no conversation between the couple and the gunman before he opened fire.
"We just don't know," Skaggs said. "On the one hand, she didn't have any known enemies. On the other hand, it looks like it was directed toward her.... We're looking at all angles."
Melvin's father called his daughter's death "incredibly senseless." Bernie Melvin said she had studied film at UC Santa Cruz and moved to Hollywood about four years ago to break into the entertainment industry. Like many young Angelenos, he said, Carrie Melvin worked several jobs — waitressing, bartending — while pursuing that dream.
"She was really kind of spreading her wings," he said. "It's an extreme loss to us. She had a lot to give, and her life was cut short."
Melvin said his daughter was witty and loving, the kind of person who befriended not only the owners of the restaurants where she worked but also the busboys. The fact that she was so well-liked, he said, made her death especially hard to comprehend.
"Everyone you talked to just loved her. She was a joy to be around," he said. "When she looked at you, you felt like you were in the spotlight."
The shooting happened about 10 p.m. along McCadden Place near Sunset Boulevard, just a few blocks from the Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue intersection that is popular among tourists.
On Monday, as extra LAPD officers walked the neighborhood, residents, business owners and tourists said they were rattled by what happened.
Shany Miron, who was visiting L.A. from Israel, was staying in a hotel just down the block from the shooting scene. Miron said she and her friends were in the hotel Sunday night when they heard screaming outside. When they left about 10 minutes later, she said, they saw police cars.
"Now we just want to get out of here," Miron said. "We didn't get sleep because we were really, really afraid."
John Hakimian, 47, has owned a nearby plant nursery for four years, and described the area as "so-so" in terms of safety. Hakimian said his surveillance camera captured a police car arriving at the scene Sunday night — footage that LAPD detectives later collected.
"It's scary," Hakimian said. "Crazy things happen."
Skaggs said investigators believe the shooting was an isolated incident because the circumstances didn't match any recent crimes. But he acknowledged it was "alarming because of the nature of the violence."
The initial information indicated the gunman acted alone, Skaggs said. He was described as a black man in his mid-20s, about 6 feet tall, wearing dark clothes, including a dark hooded jacket.
Skaggs advised the public to be cautious and report anything suspicious to police. He urged anyone with information about Sunday's shooting to call detectives at (213) 382-9470 or call the LAPD's tip line at (877) 527-3247.