NEW YORK – A pregnant 34-year-old New York mother was fatally shot as she bravely shielded her children and others when gunfire erupted outside a Brooklyn school Friday afternoon, police said.
Bullets also struck an 11-year-old girl and a 31-year-old woman who was walking out of P.S./I.S. 298 with her own kids right after classes were dismissed at about 2:35pm, authorities said.
"As soon as we crossed the street, they started shooting," said a cousin of the dead woman Zurana Horton, a mother of 13 kids who was on the way to pick up another one of them from another school when she was struck down.
"The gunfire was everywhere, we couldn't move, there was nowhere [to] go, we didn't know where the bullets were coming from," said the cousin, who did not give her name. "She was about to get ready to move out of here, she's getting married, but now she can't do any of that."
The 11-year-old victim, Cheanne McKnight, "kept screaming, 'They shot me in the face! They shot my face!'" said her aunt Ximinia Fernandez.
"I didn't know if she was OK -- I just saw a big hole in her face," Fernandez said at Brookdale Hospital, where she drove her niece after the horrific shooting. "That poor little girl." Cheanne was in stable condition with a graze wound to her face.
The shots -- believed to have been fired from the roof of a nearby building -- struck the victims as they walked in front of the Lucky Supermarket on Watkins Street, less than a block from the school, police said.
NYPD spokesman Paul Brown said police are eyeing the possibility the gunman was firing at a group of youths arguing on the street below. Investigators retrieved seven 9mm shell casings from the rooftop of the building at 1800 Pitkin Avenue -- a gang-ridden address -- and another five 9mm casings from the sidewalk right in front of the building.
When Horton heard the gunshots, she grabbed the child she was with and others around her "to protect them as the shots were fired," Browne said. Her dramatic sacrifice was caught on a surveillance video, sources said.
The third victim was identified by a cousin as Unique Mobily, who was shot in the arm and chest as she walked from the school with her kids. "She says she's OK, I talked to her," said Mobily's cousin, who did not give his name. "She's in pain, she's hurting."
Three men, one with a black hooded top and a second in dark clothing, fled from the scene eastbound on foot and entered a nearby property, said Browne, the police spokesman. Two people from the property were being questioned by police Friday night.
Two suspects, including the gunman, were still being sought. A $12,000 reward is being offered for information in the case.