A mother woke up from a coma Nov. 15 to learn her 4-year-old daughter had died following a shooting the previous day.
Diana Gomez, 27, was unloading groceries with three of her children on Nov. 14 when robbers approached, the Houston Chronicle reported.
After Gomez refused to hand over her purse, one of the men opened fire, hitting 4-year-old Ava Castillo and 10-year-old Betzida.
Gomez was also hit and taken to a local hospital. She was awoken from her coma the following morning but could only breathe with the help of a tube.
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“She couldn’t speak. All she could do is cry. But you could definitely see the pain in her face,” said Julie Gomez, Diana’s sister, of the moment she learned of Ava’s death.
Gomez’s family later described her as being “very distraught,” according to KPRC.
Gomez was shot seven times and doctors had to remove part of her intestines.
Ava died after being flown to hospital.
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“She was just a sweet, sweet little girl,” Julie told the Chronicle. “Always so happy, so jolly.”
Betzida was struck by a bullet, but survived with serious injuries. Isaiah, Gomez’s 5-year-old son who was also there, was not injured.
Police officers arrived on the scene soon after the shooting and found Gomez trying to care for her children.
“She was in mother mode,” Parris County Sheriff’s Deputy Thomas Gilliland said. “She didn’t even know she had been shot. [She didn’t realize] till a deputy noticed that she had blood on her shirt.”
The officer added that the robbers were likely “predator-type criminals searching for crimes of opportunity.”
Residents said the attackers probably got into the complex through a broken gate, which the building manager had failed to repair for months. There was also no lighting in the parking lot due to lack of general maintenance.
“While the North Houston District has seen a 12 percent decrease in violent crime when comparing last year to this year, incidents like this are never easy to accept or understand,” a statement from North Houston District said.
Police detained person of interest in the investigation on an unrelated warrant, but they have not yet charged him.
Officers are still searching for suspects. They say all the men in the group were wearing dark-colored clothes and fled the scene in a dark sedan.