Deanna Pugh had just dropped off one of her 11 grandchildren and parked her car near the corner of Flatbush Avenue and Zion Street in Hartford. She wanted a cigarette, but with her daughter and an 8-year-old granddaughter in the car, she stepped out onto the sidewalk so she wouldn't expose them to the smoke.
Moments later, the Enfield woman was dead, a victim of a drive-by shooting.
Why someone would shoot Pugh just a few blocks from Trinity College is a mystery her family can't fathom and Hartford police hadn't unraveled by Wednesday evening.
``She went to take her granddaughter to the doctor and wound up dead,'' said Pugh's sister, Kimberly Long-Hicks. ``It's senseless, you know.''
Police said Pugh was standing outside Reyes Grocery when a dark-color, late 1990s or 2000 Honda pulled up alongside her car shortly before 6 p.m. Tuesday. Someone inside fired several shots in Pugh's direction, and the driver took off south on Zion Street.
At least one bullet struck Pugh, a 45-year-old wife, mother and grandmother, in the chest. Another bullet shattered the driver's side window of her car, and a third lodged in a window of a pawn shop on the corner.
Pugh's 22-year-old daughter and the granddaughter -- with the help of two strangers -- scrambled to get Pugh into the back seat of the car, police and family members said.
The daughter, who was not identified, called 911 and began driving to a hospital. An ambulance was dispatched, intercepted the car and took Pugh to Hartford Hospital, where she was pronounced dead, police and family members said.
Police Chief Daryl K. Roberts said Wednesday that there are no suspects in the case, and detectives are investigating whether Pugh knew her assailant and why she was shot.
It was the second shooting in the city's South End in a week. A 15-year-old Bulkeley High School sophomore was shot during a robbery as she was walking home Friday, but Roberts said the incidents were isolated and unrelated.
``It doesn't appear to be a trend,'' Roberts said. ``Crime is down.''
At Flatbush and Zion on Wednesday, shattered glass remained on the street, and blood had frozen on the ground. Store owners at the corner said the shooting happened so fast, it was hard to describe what happened.
A neighborhood man said Wednesday that he was getting out of his car across the street when he saw Pugh park her car. Before he crossed the street, he said, he heard five ``pop, pop, pops,'' the sounds of gunfire. ``I think it was coming from another car going by,'' the man said. He, too, called 911 before Pugh's family drove away.
A man at the corner grocery store said he was serving customers when he heard five or six shots, looked through the window and saw a crowd around Pugh. ``We were busy, and I didn't go outside,'' said the man, who asked not to be identified.
Pugh's family said her death was the kind of senseless violence she had tried to escape two years ago, when she moved from Hartford to the Thompsonville section of Enfield. They said she had gone to Hartford Tuesday to bring her daughter and a granddaughter to a doctor's appointment.
``No one can explain what took place, and she's no longer here,'' said Jon Jones Jr., her brother.
Pugh had four children and 11 grandchildren, with a 12th on the way. Family members described her as a compassionate mother and wife. ``She was a golden star,'' Long-Hicks said. ``She shined on everybody she touched.''
Pugh's son, Carl Long, noted the irony of her death. She was on the street because she didn't want her granddaughter exposed to harmful secondhand smoke, he said.
"Whoever did it just really needs to be captured,'' Long said.
Hartford police are asking anyone who may have seen the shooting to call Lt. Scott Sansom, commander of the major crimes division, at 860-527-6300, Ext. 5230; Det. Mark Fowler at 860-527-6300, Ext. 5439; or the department's confidential tip hot line at 860-527-TIPS.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun