What makes the murder of 25-year-old James even more tragic than its Dec. 25 timing is the fact that her three-year-old daughter, Niveah, was sitting in the backseat of the family car when she was killed.
The vehicle was parked at 1723 85th Street in South Los Angeles. Just as James was climbing into the driver's seat after stopping by a friend's house, two unidentified men in a dark blue vehicle fired nine shots in her direction. The bullets pierced both of her legs, and — fatally — her head.
According to news reports, James was on her way home to Riverside after celebrating Christmas evening with some friends. She was shot at about 10:20 p.m. and declared dead by 10:40 p.m.
Police believe the crime was gang-related, but have no proof just yet. James' family members also have little idea as to why anyone would have wanted to shoot the 25-year-old, and are suggesting it may have been a case of mistaken identity.
At a news conference attended by friends, family, police officers and various media, a dazed Niveah was handed the microphone.
“Please help my mommy,” she said.
James' fiancee and father of the toddler, Chris Jackson, told the crowd: “I need justice for my 3 year old daughter. This is crazy…take a nice woman like that from everybody.”
The L.A. City Council has since offered a reward of $50,000 for any additional information about the suspects or the crime. Tipsters are urged to call LAPD detective Doug Pierce or Ernesto Mendoza at (213) 485-1383.