Nearly a week after Mary McAllister was shot and killed while driving through Northwest Jacksonville, police charged a man with murder. They also said the gunman thought he was shooting someone else and called her death a tragic mistake.
McAllister, 54, was found dead in her car at the intersection of Steele Street and Blue Avenue last Saturday night.
Because she had spoken out about another recent murder, homicide detectives thought there might be a connection.
On Friday police arrested Christ Heggs, 23, in connection with McAllister's death. Detectives said there was no connection with the previous homicide.
"We believe he thought he was shooting somebody else," Lt. Larry Schmitt said. "It was not supposed to be Ms. McAllister."
Investigators said witnesses described and surveillance video showed Heggs walking up to McAllister's car and opening fire.
Detectives won't say who Heggs was trying to target, only that it wasn't McAllister, who ran a Northside boarding house. She has been credited with helping hundreds of people, including Fred Harris, who was beaten to death at a Northside Waffle House last month.
McAllister had vowed to seek justice for her friend. A couple of weeks later, she was killed.
Police said Heggs, 23, was found hiding in a chest in his ex-girlfriend's garage. He is being held without bond in the Duval County jail on a charge of murder.
Police said they were able to notify the family that the killer was in custody early Friday morning as they were headed out to her funeral.
"It was nice to be able to give them that news before they laid Mrs. McAllister to rest," Schmitt said.
Police said a combination of witnesses and security video led to Heggs' arrest.
According to a police report, police were able to track down a witness who said he'd given Heggs a ride before the shooting. That witness told officers once the suspect realized a truck was following them, he got out at Sixth street and Blue Avenue and began to walk away.
Officers were able to get a hold of security video from a church located at Blue Avenue and Steele Street where McAllister was shot.
They said the video shows Heggs approach the driver side of her truck, fire four shots into it, then run off.