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Community Holds Vigil For Off-Duty Correction Officer Murdered Near Brooklyn Home

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A neighborhood in Brooklyn came together on Monday night, at a candlelight vigil for a correction officer who was shot to death near her home.

As CBS2's Jessica Layton reported, a heartbroken community held onto a mother in mourning. The woman heard the gunshots that killed her daughter the night before.

"It is humanly impossible to find words in our vocabulary that can comfort her and her family at this time," a neighbor said.

Alastasia Bryan, 25, had just started her new job as a correction officer a month ago. Around 9 p.m. Sunday, police said she was in her parked car at Avenue L and 73rd Street about to head to Rikers Island where she works -- unaware that a man was waiting in a nearby vehicle.

"He got out of the vehicle and fired five rounds into the car, striking her and killing her," NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said. "This male then got into a car and then drove away."

As CBS2's Alice Gainer reported, five bullet holes in the driver's side window where Bryan was gunned down.

"They hear the gunshots," the victim's aunt, Mintha Bryan, told CBS2's Magdalena Doris. "So she know Alastasia just went out to go to work."

Mintha Bryan said the sound sent the young woman's mother running.

Detectives believe Bryan was likely the intended target of the shooting, which killed her instantly.

Her family is now struggling with the idea that someone would want to hurt her. The youngest of five siblings, they said she was driven and full of potential.

"I know how my family is right now, with the pain. She was a lovable person, kind-hearted and cared for everyone," her uncle, Anthony Moore, said. "We leave everything in their hands and take care of the culprit by the grace of God."

"She was just always there for her family," her cousin, Claire, told 1010 WINS' Glenn Schuck. "Her family always come first."

"God is watching over us," McDonald said. "He'll deal with the person."

On Monday, friends, family and colleagues stopped by Bryan's home just around the corner from where she was killed.

"She go to school, she did her school work and she go and do correction officer -- what she want to do,m" Mintha Bryan said. "And somebody go and take that life out of her hands at 25 years old -- I don't know."

There were also prayers from her family of correction officers.

"She's a sister in blue and we are here because she's our sister," Retired Correction Officer, Charmain White said.

Department of Correction Commissioner Joseph Ponte issued a statement saying the entire department "is in mourning" and "deeply saddened."

"I extend my heartfelt condolences to the officer's family, friends, and fellow officers throughout the department, during this most difficult time," he said.

The Correction Officers' Benevolent Association issued a statement saying it is "shocked and grieving the horrific murder of one of the youngest members of New York City's boldest."

"There are no words that can express the depth of this tragedy. The COBA will do everything we can to support the officer's family during this time and we will not rest until the assailant or assailants are brought to justice."

There was also anger from community activists.

"That young lady should be on this planet today. No one had the authority to take her life," Tony Herbert said, "There were at least five shootings this weekend, this weekend, five shootings! And somebody keeps telling me crime is down, well you tell me where!"

Relatives wouldn't publicly speculate who killed Alastasia, but as the outpouring of love continued to grow at the memorial, they believed one thing to be true.

"God is watching over us, he'll deal with the person," Jasmine McDonald said.

Police have impounded the car that was riddled with bullets for further examination. They also searched the neighborhood for more surveillance video that might lead to a suspect.

COBA is offering a $50,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of Alastasia's killer.


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