Grandmother, killed in Tampa, moved to escape violence in Puerto Rico

- The brother of a woman killed by what police said was a stray bullet, said she moved to Tampa to escape violence in Puerto Rico.

Family said 57-year-old Maria Rivera-Contreas was in a car with some family members, headed home after delivering food to another family member who lived nearby.

Nearby, a young person was riding their bike. Police said - as part of an ongoing feud between some kids - a shot was fired at the bicyclist. That shot hit Rivera-Contreas instead. She was taken to the hospital where she was pronounced dead.

Her brother, Victor, spoke to FOX 13 News and showed the spot where she sat, in the back seat of a car, when the shot killed her. Among her last words were, "thanks, that's a great deal," her brother said, adding she was talking to a landlord on the phone about her upcoming move to a new apartment.  

Family in Tampa said she was a kind mother, auntie and grandmother who came to the U.S. five months ago, hoping for a better life. 

"She lived in Puerto Rico, and over there is bad. Over there there is gun violence, little kids getting shot. She moved from that to come here, and look at what happens," Rivera-Contreas' niece, Mari Pacheco told FOX 13 News. "My kids looked up to that lady. I have a three year old and he is asking me for her. It's hard for me to tell him. I don't know what to say."

A $3,000 reward is being offered for information about who shot the gun that killed Rivera-Contreas Thursday night. 

Tampa police said it happened near Jefferson Street N and Columbus Drive E around 9:45 p.m. Police said there seemed to be several witnesses to the shooting, but no one was willing to tell officers what they saw. 

"We have officers who care, detectives who care, who want to solve this crime, and people are too much of a coward to come forward," Tampa PD Assistant Chief Marc Hamlin said.

No arrest were made, and investigators hope someone with information will call Crime Stoppers, at 1-800-873-TIPS (8477), to become eligible for the reward.

The Tampa Police Department said, at this time last year, officers had investigated 19 homicides. This year, Rivera-Contreas' death makes number 11, but three happened within the last 7 days. 

Up Next:

Up Next

  • Grandmother, killed in Tampa, moved to escape violence in Puerto Rico
  • Withlacoochee expected to crest Wednesday
  • Neo-Nazi takes plea deal on explosives charges
  • Polk to use early release days as hurricane make-up days
  • Puerto Ricans on the mainland watch, wait after Maria devastates U.S. territory
  • Polk rejects plan to light road where teen was killed
  • After Dunedin school serves as shelter, 80 books missing from classroom
  • Time drags for those waiting for news from Puerto Rico
  • AMBER ALERT: 4 children missing from Manatee Co.
  • Wisconsin logger helps clear debris after Irma