JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A woman in her 40s was shot in the back early Saturday morning as she sat inside a home on Brooklyn Road off 45th Street and two children slept inside the home, Jacksonville police said.
Melania Ross, a mother of three, was at a friend's house for a cookout when the shootout happened, police say. Homicide detectives said she was taken to UF Health Jacksonville, where she died from her wounds and no arrests have been made.
Family members say Ross was in the wrong place at the wrong time and remember her as an incredible, hard-working mother with a kind heart.
"For them to take her life like that, sad, sad," said Sandra Smith, Ross' sister.
The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said the shots came from the road and entered the house about 2:30 a.m. Police said they found about 20 shell casings from multiple rounds in the street.
There were four evidence markers where the bullets also hit the tree in front of the house.
Three witnesses have been interviewed and homicide detectives hope to figure out who shot the woman and why.
"We see it every day on TV and every day on the news, but when it hits home, it’s a really bad feeling, and it affects everybody," said Michael Ross, a brother of Melania Ross. "Not just the situation with her, but her whole family is affected now. It’s a big domino effect for everybody. We have to rearrange our whole life."
Melania Ross was the youngest of 15 siblings and leaves behind three children ages 8, 15 and 17.
"It's going to be hard," Smith said. "Hard for them, but I'm gonna be there for them. All of us are going to be there for them."
Melania Ross’ family is asking for the community to speak up and come forward with information so their loved one's killer can be brought to justice.
"It's going really deep, deep in the heart and soul of everybody," Michael Ross said.
Anyone with information about the shooting is asked to call JSO at 904-630-0500 or Crime Stoppers at 866-845-TIPS (8477).
The family has set up a GoFundMe page to help support her three children.