Jana Collins was a newlywed and four months' pregnant. She was sitting in a parked car Wednesday morning when a gunman opened fire on a group of people in a working-class neighborhood east of Robertson Boulevard in Los Angeles.
Collins, 26, who lived in nearby Santa Monica, was hit once in the head in what police say appears to be a case of "being at the wrong place at the wrong time."
Friends jumped in the car and drove her to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead about 9:30 a.m.
The intended target was probably Collins' husband, who police said is a suspected gang member. Neighbors said the couple regularly visited friends in the 1900 block of South Corning Street.
"She was a good person," said Jerry Robles, 19, who lives across the street. "She was always the first to ask, 'How was your day?' "
Residents said they heard at least five shots in rapid succession. The killing marked the first death of the year in the Los Angeles Police Department's West Los Angeles Division, which stretches from the wealthy enclaves of Pacific Palisades, Brentwood and Bel-Air to La Cienega Boulevard.
Lt. Tony Carranza said the husband had just gotten out of the car when the two men pulled up in an SUV. One of them fired multiple rounds.
Collins "was not an intended target," Carranza said. "It looks like she was a victim of circumstance of being at the wrong place at the wrong time."
The neighborhood is home to old apartment buildings and small stucco homes, many of them with gated yards and barred windows. The area, which divides upscale communities to the west and north from more economically disadvantaged pockets in Mid-City, has been prone to spasms of violence over the years, according to police and residents.
One of the most notable crimes took place in 2006, when gang gunfire claimed the life of Ana Interiano, 16, a Hamilton High School student. She was walking with friends in an alley in the area. Police said Ana was not a gang member but may have been with friends who had gang affiliations.
Capt. Ruben De La Torre, who commands LAPD patrol units in the area, said the neighborhood where Collins was killed is not as violent as other parts of the city. But he acknowledged that the area is home to several gangs that have battled each other over the years.
"We do have issues here," he said as he stood near four votive candles that flickered near the spot where Collins was slain.
De La Torre said LAPD gang units have recently been deployed in the area.
Nikko Delonne, who lives in the area, said he had several friends who lost their lives to gang violence. As an LAPD cruiser drove by, he said he hoped that Collins' slaying does not spark a wave of retaliation and counter-retaliation.
"It's senseless," he said of her slaying. "She was a victim of the streets."