Witnesses say children were present when Fresno man shot their mother

FRESNO, Calif.

Jackson shot and killed Cynthia Watkins, the mother of his daughter, and his neighbor Jerome Dixon Friday night.

Neighbors said last week Anthony Jackson was playing in the front yard with his 3-year-old daughter. Friends believe he ambushed Watkins while posing as though he was picking up their little girl.

Flowers and a card were on the doorstep of the apartment where friends say Cynthia Watkins planned to exchange her toddler daughter with Dixon. Instead, during the turnover, something went horribly wrong.

A neighbor was downstairs and heard the shooting.

"When that gun went off in that apartment, it sounded like boom, boom, boom, and then a big boom, was when she hit the ground, boom. And when I got up there I could smell the gunpowder," the neighbor said.

While another neighbor called for help, the neighbor Action News spoke to said she immediately turned her attention to Cynthia's distraught children. They told her they were in the same room when their mom was shot to death.

"The little girls were huddled against the brother crying, screaming. The brother was just, he acted almost as, he was in shock," the neighbor said.

Police say Watkins died instantly. A short distance away, Dixon was confronted by Jackson at his apartment.

Family members say Dixon was planning to move soon because the suspect was harassing him. Watkins lived next door to the suspect with his girlfriend, young daughter and newborn son. His godfather says he worked hard to support his young family.

"He was a kid with a super big heart. He would put anyone before himself, a lot of fun, he loved basketball, he loved football and he loved playing around. He had a smile that could lighten up anyone's day," the victims godfather Terry McCoy said.

Neighbors say the victim's knew each other through mutual friends, and by living in the same area. On occasion, many neighbors say Dixon would ask them and Watkins for cigarettes.

Police say Jackson may have believed Watkins was involved in a relationship with Dixon but police have not confirmed that link. Investigators say Jackson also had mental health issues that may have played a part in the murder.

Neighbors say Watkins was an outstanding mother who tried hard to raise three children on her own. The kids are staying with relatives. Police say Jackson does not have much of a criminal past.

Family members have set up a bank account for Jerome Dixon.

Chase Bank Account # 000000222301250

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