EAST FLATBUSH — A 32-year-old devoted mother of three was shot to death early Tuesday just steps from Brookdale Hospital, where her daughter was being treated for an asthma attack, officials and family said.
Shalema Gaskin, who has three girls, ages 18, 8 and 5, was gunned down about 3 a.m. at East 98th Street and Hegeman Avenue, near a rear entrance to the hospital, according to the FDNY.
She was rushed to Brookdale, where she underwent surgery for a gunshot wound to the neck, but could not be saved.
"She was a beautiful mother," said Gaskin's mom, Tanya Gaskin, 50. "She would have done anything for those kids. Her family was so important to her. Anything they wanted, she tried to get for them."
According to Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, Gaskin's youngest daughter, Briana, developed an asthma attack during the day Monday and she took her to the hospital.
At some point she left to check in on her other children and her estranged husband came to stay with Briana.
When she returned to Brookdale Hospital, "she was shot once in the neck," Kelly said.
But there were conflicting accounts of the incident. Other sources said that she was shot when she was leaving the hospital.
"She was the greatest person on Earth," Tamara Gaskin said at the family's Brownsville home. "Grateful, caring, loving. She was my mother."
Lila Evans, Gaskin's aunt, said her niece was very religious, but also had a playful side.
"She liked to go on dates," Evans, 47, said. "She was just a free-spirited person. She was so kind and friendly."
Gaskin was also enrolled in Medgar Evers College studying computer science, the school said.
No arrests have been made and it was not clear if she was the target of the shooting, police said. Gaskin's relatives said they were dumbfounded as to who pulled the trigger.
"She didn't have no enemies," Evans said. "Why would anyone want to kill her? She was an angel, just an innocent doll of a girl."
Tanya Gaskin said she just wants answers.
"I want the person that shot and killed my daughter brought to justice," she said. "I won't rest until that happens.