A 41-year-old associate pastor at a local church who also worked as an elementary school aide was fatally shot as she got into her car Friday morning in North Baltimore.
The crime, which has perplexed investigators, comes amid a spike in violence this week.
"This is the woman you want as your neighbor, the woman you want in your community," said police spokesman T.J. Smith. "And some coward guns her down at 7:30 in the morning."
The killing of Latrina Ashburne occurred as she got into her car outside the home she shared with her mother in the 2900 block of Rosalind Ave. in the Cylburn neighborhood, according to police and a relative.
An unknown male approached and shot her in the upper body as she tried to run, police said.
"We don't have a motive in this case. We don't know why this took place, and it's absolutely concerning to us," Smith said.
Ashburne was an associate pastor at the Kingdom Restoration Center church on York Road. She also worked as a teacher's aide at Francis Scott Key Elementary School, according to her uncle, the Rev. Christian Hall, who is senior pastor at the church.
Hall said his niece had been a preacher since her teens.
"She started as a young minister and just kind of fell in love with ministry," Hall said. "She was not only an elder, but also the youth coordinator of our ministry. She loved helping young people."
Hall said Ashburne preached at churches throughout the area and considered herself a "prayer warrior" who ministered to those in need. He described her as an introverted person, which he said made her death all the more shocking.
Police released a video they said showed the suspect fleeing the scene of the shooting on foot. He had a shirt over his head, but detectives hope someone might recognize him and help solve the case. Anyone with information was asked to contact detectives at 410-396-2100 or Metro Crime Stoppers at 1-866-7LOCKUP.
"These aren't new criminals. These are the same bad guys that continually terrorize the citizens of Baltimore, and you have situations like this," said Smith of Ashburne's shooting.
The killing comes amid a spate of violence, with at least eight people killed in Baltimore since Wednesday. There have been more than 300 shootings in the city this year — a 16 percent increase over this time last year.
Among the recent incidents was the fatal shooting of two men Thursday in the 2700 block of The Alameda. In that incident, police said, the two victims shot each other in a gunfight around 6 p.m.
"These guys were shooting at each other, and they killed each other," Smith said. "It helps characterize what we're dealing with, with some of these violent repeat offenders."
Also Thursday night, a 44-year-old man was killed about 6:50 p.m. He was shot in the head while sitting in a vehicle at the intersection of North Bond and Oliver streets in East Baltimore, police said.
Police also said a man stabbed Wednesday in the 1600 block of W. North Ave. succumbed to his injuries.
Homicide detectives were on the scene of another shooting Friday afternoon, in a residential neighborhood in Southwest Baltimore. The shooting took place about 3 p.m. in the 500 block of Normandy Ave., and left shell casings in the street.
A detective stood over a pair of sneakers and clothes as he investigated. Police did not provide details of the incident.
"It scared me; my children play outside," said a woman who lives nearby and asked that her name not be used. "It's crazy they shot that boy like that."
Vernon Takins, 68, who lives in the neighborhood, blamed the violence on "young hoppers" involved in the drug trade.
"It's terrible," said James Rodgers, 90, who lives nearby. "It wasn't like this years ago. It's mostly these youngsters causing the trouble. They don't want to go get a job."
Meanwhile, police announced an arrest in another recent shooting, charging 26-year-old Barak Olds in an incident that occurred May 14 in the 1800 block of N. Caroline St.
Olds was one of nine people arrested last year after a raid of the office of the Safe Streets violence prevention program. In March, prosecutors dropped all charges related to that incident, saying they received "exculpatory information that called into question the identity of the defendants."