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Family of slain Newport News mother says she died trying to protect her kids

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Posted at 9:35 PM, Jan 07, 2013
and last updated 2013-01-07 21:41:35-05

Newport News, Va. - Family and friends gathered in Newport News Monday night to remember Phyllis Vinston.

She was killed Saturday while trying to bring her children inside, away from gunfire near her home.

"I miss my baby. I wish she was here right now buy she's gone and there nothing I could do."

Paulette Vinston says her daughter Phyllis died trying to protect her sons from gunfire outside her apartment Saturday night.

But the mother's bravery doesn't make the loss easier to bear.  Especially since the shooters are still out there.

Newport news Police believe Phyllis may have been struck by bullets meant for someone else.

Police believe there were two suspects that were firing at two other individuals. It began at a courtyard next to Vinstons was and then progressed to her courtyard.

Witnesses say the 27-year-old ran out to the courtyard to protect her 7 and 4-year-old sons when she heard people shooting. One of her boys saw it all.

"He said Mama, wake up mama, but she wouldn't wake up. He came to me and said Grandma my Mama laying on the ground, she got shot," says Paulette. "She left two sons behind, and it's sad and I have always said in my mind it could never happen to my family but it did!"

Newport News police say witnesses are coming forward - something they've struggled with in other murder investigations. 

But crimes like this have proven tough to crack in Hampton Roads. 

The person who killed Vinnesha Hunter is still on the street. Hampton police believe she was the unintended target of a 2011 shooting.

And no one knows who shot LaShae Toliver. A stray bullet ripped through her Hampton home last year.

Those cases are open because witnesses are unwilling or too scared to come forward.

But Vinston's family prays the person responsible for their pain will be brought to justice.