Toddler Shot to Death in Hollister

November 20, 2008 7:47:03 PM PST
A mother is accused of shooting and killing her 18-month-old daughter in Hollister, about an hour south of San Jose. Neighbors are struggling to understand this tragedy.

The family dog stands guard in front of the Busch's house. It is a place that 18-month-old Donna lived and played.

"Our victim, Donna Busch, was killed with a Smith and Wesson 357 magnum revolver," said San Benito County Sheriff Curtis Hill.

She was shot once in the head and once in the chest while she played in her play pen.

The one person detectives think pulled the trigger is Cheryl Busch -- the little girl's mother.

"In my 32 years, I don't remember a mother killing a child," said Hill.

This is San Benito County's first homicide of the year, and the first ever for those living on rural Shore Road.

Most describe the Buschs as quiet. But hearing about what may have happened at the home angers neighbor Tom Reynolds.

"There's something definitely wrong, it wasn't an accident, that the gun went off by accident. She shot the baby twice so a mother that could do something like that it's just unbelievable," said Reynolds.

The one who called police was John Busch, Donna's father. He was outside when he heard the shots. Investigators think he and his wife had been arguing just moments before.

It turns out police were at the house last November. They arrested Cheryl Busch for beating up her husband. She was charged with misdemeanor domestic violence, so at the time of the shooting, she was on probation.

Theirs was a rocky marriage, according to a friend of the family. But Donna, he said, kept them together.

Cheryl Busch is on suicide watch at the county jail.


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