Deborah Pearl was driving to her job at a diner in Solon, Ohio, early Saturday morning when a man in a Jeep ran a red light at a busy intersection and smashed into her car.
The Jeep flipped several times before it landed on its roof. What happened next shocked the people who saw it.
The man crawled out of the Jeep with a rifle in his hand, witnesses told police.
They watched him walk over to Pearl and shoot the mother of three sons outside the passenger side of her car, according to Fox 8 in Cleveland.
One witness told the Cleveland Plain Dealer that Pearl put her hands up in the air and the man, whom police later identified as 29-year-old Matthew Ryan Desha, shot her several times.
“I can’t get her screams out of my head,” the woman told the newspaper.
Pearl, 53, was taken to University Hospitals Bedford Medical Center, where she died.
Desha was scheduled to make his first court appearance on Monday.
The scene that witnesses described to police and media was chaotic. People said they heard three shots, four shots, a dozen shots. They said Desha was shooting randomly, police said.
One woman called 911 and, in a voice shaking with fear, told a dispatcher that a man was walking around with an “AK-47 shootin’ all over the place ... please hurry ... He’s right in our driveway, walkin’ back and forth, pacing.”
Solon police arrested Desha in the vicinity of the accident without incident.
“Words can’t explain what we’re going through,” one of Pearl’s three grown sons, Derryo Pearl, told the newspaper. “This is the roughest patch a human being can go through. I've gone through tough times before, but it wasn’t like this.”
He said he and his brothers became good fathers because of their mother.
“She disciplined us when she needed to discipline us,” he told the Plain Dealer. “She made us go to school every day. She worked hard and taught us that was the only way to succeed in life.”
Investigators trying to determine a motive for the shooting said they don’t believe the two motorists knew each other.
“It was a senseless killing,” witness Barbara Bartels told Cleveland 19 TV station.