Vigil held for slain Orlando pregnant mother

Imelda "Tia" Francois learned on July 9​ she was having a girl

By Emilee Speck - Digital journalist, Erik Sandoval - Reporter

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - UPDATE: The family has created a GoFundMe page to help pay for medical expenses related to the shooting.

The woman killed when two unknown men fired shots into the vehicle she and others were riding in Monday in the Orlando area was six months pregnant, her family said. The victim's 1-year-old son and a teenage girl were also injured in the shooting, deputies said.

Orange County Sheriff's Office deputies were in the area of Gamble and Dunsford drives before 3 p.m. Monday on an unrelated call when they heard gunshots and rushed to the scene to find a 13-year-old suffering from a gunshot wound to the arm getting out of a silver Ford Taurus.

Sheriff Jerry Demings said that girl, a 21-year-old pregnant woman, a 21-year-old man, a 15-year-old child, a 6-year-old child and a baby boy had been in the Ford Taurus when someone in an older-model Chevrolet Malibu riddled it with bullets.

Imelda "Tia" Francois, 21, was identified by the Sheriff's Office as the woman who was killed. She was gravely injured when deputies arrived and later died at the hospital.

Family members said Francois was six months pregnant with a girl. The baby also did not survive.

Francois' son, who will turn 2 years old in September, was struck in the side with a bullet fragment and was taken to an area hospital by a bullet. The boy's father, Francois' boyfriend, was also in the vehicle and uninjured. Deputies originally told the news media that the child was only 10 months old. Francois' family later confirmed the boy is almost 2.

Francois' family said the 21-year-old found out on July 9 she was expecting a baby girl.

Her family said she was a working mother and loved her son. 

"She loved that little boy to death. She was always happy whenever you’d see her, always with her son," the victim's cousin Daphene St. Jacques said. "When my cousin called me, I broke down ... I couldn’t believe that."

Detectives released a photo Tuesday of a white older model sedan that was seen leaving the crime scene. They're also interviewing witnesses. 

"We’ve spoken with everyone and detectives are working all active leads," said Jeff Williamson with the Orange County Sheriff's Office.  "When you shoot randomly like that, you have no idea who you’re going to injure." 

Tuesday night, about 100 people gathered at the spot where the shooting happened to pray.

Francois' grandmother and grandfather had to be held as the screamed sobbing.

"It wasn’t right for someone to do that to her," said Francois' cousin Emilia LeMaine.  "She was all about her child. She worked, she was trying to go to school, trying to get back into school. She was not the type of female that would just run in the streets."

Crimeline is offering a $5,000 reward to anyone with information leading to an arrest in the case. Tipster are asked to call Crimeline and remain anonymous at 1-800-423-TIPS (8477).

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