A California mother of two was shot dead and her son was seriously injured by a complete stranger for laughing at him as he rode in a car with his feet hanging out of the window.
Bus driver Denise Chiffon Berry, 44, and her 12-year-old son whose name has not been released were driving in Hawthorne, California Wednesday afternoon when they encountered two feet dangling outside the window of a white Cadillac.
Berry looked at her son and said “Look at that, isn’t that funny?”
The two laughed just as Berry drove past the Cadillac, which is when her son made eye contact with the passenger, 38-year-old Robert Washington, whose feet were hanging outside of the window.
Apparently, Washington didn’t take the laughing too lightly as he began following the mother son.
Once Berry noticed the Cadillac was following her, she immediately pulled over when she saw an officer on 14200 block of Kornblum Ave. Getting out of her vehicle, she approached the officer and told him that the three men in the Cadillac were following her.
He then suggested that she pull her vehicle in front of his and he would investigate. As she was walking back to her vehicle, Washington got out of the Cadillac and began shooting at her and her son with two handguns. The officer returned fire at the shooter.
Both Berry and Washington were pronounced dead at the scene. However, Berry’s son survived the shooting but suffered from serious injuries. He was able to tell officers what caused the Hawthorne shooting just before he went under the knife.
Lt. Dave Coleman stated that the shooting “appears to be random or misguided.”
“We’ll have to figure that out…. We know that, at some point, the little boy made eye contact with the suspect,” he continued.
“We don’t know if that’s what set him off. The bottom line yesterday is she was driving down the street, minding her own business. The gunman got out with a mission… You almost can’t drive around and make eye contact.”
The two other men inside of the Cadillac were taken into custody for their involvement in the crime. The driver, Stanley White, 24, was charged with murder as well as conspiracy, and the 19-year-old backseat passenger, Brandon White, will be charged with conspiracy.
When Washington’s neighbor heard about the shooting, he immediately arrived at the scene where he spoke with reporters. He stated that it was “out of character ” for Washington to react in that way.
When one of Berry’s neighbors discovered the news, she referred to her as a “very nice lady” and stated that “she surely didn’t deserve this.”
Both driver and backseat passenger of the Cadillac are currently being held at the county jail with a set bond at $1 million.
[Image courtesy of Dagnyg/Flickr]