OAKLAND, Calif -- When gunfire suddenly rang out in Chyemil Pierce's gritty San Francisco Bay Area neighborhood, the 30-year-old mother acted to save her two young children, shouting at them to run to safety before she was hit and killed by a stray bullet.
Pierce picked up her 7-year-old son and 9-year-old daughter from school Monday afternoon and they were walking to their Oakland home when the gunbattle erupted on the street, The Oakland Tribune reported Tuesday. The children were not injured.
Witnesses reported as many as 50 shots were fired after an argument among a group of women escalated, with others joining the fight and then exchanging gunfire. Pierce was walking behind her children and screamed for them to take cover behind their house, Oakland police Sgt. Michael Cardoza said.
"She was just trying to get them to their house safely," he said.
Pierce died at the scene.
"She was my baby sister," Aushaunti Pierce, Chyemil's sister, told the paper. "An exceptional mother who'd do anything for her children. So loved."
Pierce, who also has a 1-year-old, worked as a human resource specialist at Kaiser Permanente and grew up on the same tough west Oakland street where she died, her sister said. Her two older children attended nearby Vincent Academy, a charter school.
Kaiser Permanente said it has set up grief counseling for Pierce's co-workers.
"She was a beloved member of our community, a wonderful mother, and she'll never be forgotten here at Vincent," said Kate Nicol, the principal of the older children's school.
Police are investigating whether two teen boys shot and wounded at the same time nearby are connected to the shooting that killed Pierce. Shots also were fired outside the hospital where the wounded were being treated Monday night, prompting a 45-minute lockdown and ambulances to be diverted, the Alameda County Sheriff's Department said.
Oakland police are offering a $20,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.
Mom killed by stray bullet after shouting at her kids to run
Witnesses reported as many as 50 shots were fired after an argument among a group of women escalated.