The fatal shooting of an Escondido woman, apparently hit by gang crossfire on her way home from church, was met with outrage and sadness Wednesday.
Catherine Kennedy was driving along East Grand Avenue in Escondido on Tuesday night when she was struck in the head by a stray bullet, about four miles from the Church of St. Timothy where the 55-year-old served as a youth leader.
Barbara Allen, 48, said she was in her apartment when she heard four gunshots followed by the sound of a crash. Allen rushed outside, she said, and found the victim slouched over behind the wheel of her car.
The woman had a pulse when medics arrived, Allen said. Kennedy was transported to a hospital, where she later died.
Deborah Ware, Kennedy's sister, said her faith "meant everything to her."
Kennedy and her husband, Kevin, had been married since 2014 and both were active at St. Timothy's, where he leads the religious education program.
"She was in a prayer group on Tuesday," Ware said.
A few dozen people gathered at the church Wednesday night for a private prayer service.
A spokeswoman said earlier in the day that Father Fernando Ramirez was too upset to comment on Kennedy's death. "Cathy was one of the most wonderful people you ever want to meet," she said.
Kennedy worked for 22 years as a registered dental hygienist at Brilliant Dental in Escondido, according to the office Facebook page.
"She was passionate about making a difference in her patients lives and everyone with whom she came in contact," Brilliant posted.
In addition to her husband, Kennedy is survived by a daughter, Alicia de la Rosa, 24.
Escondido police Chief Craig Carter called the killing "a senseless tragedy" and said his department would be cracking down on street gangs.
"We are altering our resources to address this," Carter said Wednesday. "If you are a gangster in the city of Escondido and you're contacted [by police] we're going to use the furthest extent of the law to make sure we deal with you."
Repard and Hernandez write for the San Diego Union-Tribune.