Seven months ago, Aquarius D. Toney and her sister organized a prayer vigil for a 52-year-old man slain in his Lower West Side home.
Today, Toney, a 28-year-old mother of two, remains in serious condition in Erie County Medical Center, a victim of violent crime.
"She was getting out of her vehicle. Someone walked up to her and put a gun to her forehead and shot her. That's crazy," said her mother, Donna Jackson.
Toney's 2-year-old daughter was strapped into her car seat at the time of the shooting.
The family moved to Buffalo seven years ago from Sacramento for a "change of pace," said Jackson's husband, Patrick. It's a move that Donna Jackson now questions.
"We moved here, and my child gets shot. It's crazy," she said.
Toney was gunned down Dec. 5 while unloading her car outside the Pine Harbor Apartments on Seventh Street -- about an hour after and a half-mile away from where Officers Patricia A. Parete and Carl A. Andolina were shot that same night.
Toney is in the same hospital where Parete, who was wounded in the earlier shooting, also remains in serious condition. Toney's condition has improved since she arrived at the hospital unconscious, her mother said.
"She's conscious now. She's doing a little talking. We don't know if she can walk. The only thing she remembers is waking up in the hospital," she said.
A reward fund has been set up. But police have no motive, no witnesses, and no leads in the shooting, investigators said.
"Nobody's been named, and we have no motive" in the Toney shooting, said Chief of Detectives Dennis Richards.
The Homicide Bureau is investigating the Toney case because of the seriousness of her injuries.
"They have no idea who did this or why," said Donna Jackson.
She and her husband have been caring for Toney's daughters, ages 2 and 12.
Patrick Jackson said he feels his daughter's case has been overshadowed by what happened to Parete, but he believes investigators are doing everything they can.
"A lot was going on that night," he said. "I'm not faulting them for anything. I just want them to find the person who did this."
Without a suspect or motive, he's left only to wonder about that night.
"The thing is, they didn't take anything. What the police gave back to me was all her stuff. There was still cash in her wallet," he said, speculating that perhaps it was someone looking for a victim as part of gang initiation or perhaps "a robbery that went bad."
He added, "We can't keep tolerating this violence. . . . We can't tolerate a young woman not being able to come home safely."
Toney worked the drive-through window at the Niagara Street McDonald's and had hoped to become a manager at the fast-food outlet, her mother said. She had worked at Rite Aid and the Adam's Mark Hotel before that.
"She's a nice person, so friendly and outgoing, really sweet," said Sayonara Hunter, another Pine Harbor resident. "It's just real upsetting to know that somebody did that to her, with her baby right there."
The Jacksons live on Niagara Street, next door to Gothem City Barbershop, which is owned by Dorian Gaskins, vice president of Fathers Armed Together to Help Educate, Restore and Save, known as FATHERS.
FATHERS is offering a $6,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Toney's attacker, and the group hopes to raise more money for the fund.
"The goal is to raise $10,000," said Gaskins.
Donations have come from corporations, small businesses and individuals, he said.
"We work so hard for strangers, but when it's somebody you know, it really affects you. Just to know her, and her two kids, and her father. To see the agony in his face, it hurts," Gaskins said. "That could be my mother, my sister, my aunt, my grandmother."
Donations to the reward fund can be mailed to FATHERS, P.O. Box 202, Buffalo, NY 14215, or dropped off at any Buffalo Savings Bank location. Checks should be made out to FATHERS Reward Fund. For more information about the reward fund, call 445-4053 or 851-4325.
Anyone with information about the Toney case should contact Detective Noreen Walsh, the lead investigator, at 851-4466. Sgt. David Lillis and Detective Denise Crawford also are investigating the case, Richards said.
Witnesses also can call the Police Department's confidential tip line at 847-2255.