She is being described as “the heart of the family” and as “everything.”
Perla Avina’s life was cut tragically short when a purported road rage incident turned deadly in Oakland, California this past weekend.
Avina, 30, and husband Luis Lopez Gallegos were on their way home from the Supermercado Mi Tierra on International Boulevard on Sunday afternoon when an enraged driver opened fire on their black 1998 Toyota Camry. A bullet tore through the front windshield of the car and struck Avina in the head while she sat in the car's passenger seat.
Gallegos rushed the bloody Avina a few more blocks to their home on Oakland’s Rossmoor Avenue in the city's Brookfield Village neighborhood. When he arrived home he shouted to his neighbor, Dwayne Jackson, to call the police.
"He pulled up really abrupt, halfway in the driveway and called to me," Jackson said. "He said, 'D, call 911. My wife's been shot.' We pulled her out of the car and I started giving her CPR, but I pretty much knew she was gone."
Family members and police responders desperately tried CPR on the woman, but it was too late and Avina was declared dead on the scene.
Avina was the mother of girls ages 1, 5 and 10, and a 14-year-old boy, who were in “shock and confusion,” according to media accounts of the shooting.
His little sisters "don't know what's going on. But my older sister, she's just trying to hold it down, like me," 14-year old Luis Lopez Avina told SFGate.com. He described his mother as a "joyful, outgoing, ambitious woman."
"She was everything to me," he said.
Avina’s husband told local media that the younger children are unsure of what is going on and still think their mother is alive.
"She doesn't understand," Gallegos said of his five-year old, according to the Contra Costa Times. "She keeps asking when Mommy is coming home. It still hasn't processed. We had plans to watch the game and (Avina) said 'I'm going to cook you posole.' So we went to the store like we always did."
Avina and Gallego met when she went to Fremont Senior High School and Gallegos attended Oakland Technical High School. Avina was a medical clerk at a pain rehabilitation center in Emeryville, California.
Police and CrimeStoppers of Oakland are offering up to $30,000 in reward money for information leading to the arrest of the shooter.
"He was a coward with a gun," Gallegos said of the shooter who killed his wife. "A young guy with a gun who doesn't care about life."