HAWTHORNE, Calif. (April 3, 2015) — Police say a 44-year-old woman was fatally shot right in front of her 12-year-old son after they flagged down a police officer for help.
The woman, Denise Chiffon Berry, had stopped her car next to a police cruiser because she thought another vehicle was following her, reports KTLA. The gunman got out of the car and opened fire, hitting Berry and her son. The officer returned fire and killed the shooter.
Berry died at the scene. Her son told investigators what happened before being taken in for surgery. According to the 12-year-old boy, he and his mother had laughed at the gunman before the shooting. That appeared to be the only connection between them.
Authorities told the Daily Breeze that Berry and her son were amused that one of people in the car had his feet hanging out of the window.
“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.”
Berry, a bus driver, had pulled up beside the police car in fear that the other vehicle was following her. As soon as the officer tried to help her, the shooter arrived and opened fire with a pair of handguns.
Two other men were in the car with the shooter. The driver was arrested on suspicion of murder and conspiracy. The backseat passenger was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy. They were being held on $1 million bail each.