A pregnant mother of two was shot to death while returning home from a baby shower inside her Philadelphia home, leaving her 6-month-old daughter mourning the loss of her birth mother.
Police said 21-year-old Jennifer Collette-Norton was staying with her mother when she was shot in the chest on Thursday, Jan. 17. When officers arrived, they found the woman suffering from a gunshot wound. She was pronounced dead on the scene, police said.
“When we received her phone call, I will never forget the tone of her voice,” Jeffrey Elder, Collette-Norton’s father, told The Huffington Post. “She was just crying and crying and crying.”
Elder said he and his wife visited his daughter’s still-smoldering home in Logan Village a week after the shooting, which devastated the family.
“There were piles of presents still on the table from the baby shower that she attended,” he said. “So there was a lot of young women there, a lot of mommies there. She would always make sure everyone had what they needed. She would drive to their house and pick up what they need. It was just a nightmare.”
According to police, Collette-Norton was shopping for gifts for her nephew’s baby shower at the time of the shooting.
“One eyewitness heard several shots being fired and saw a silver Jeep SUV with four men inside,” Special Victims Unit Capt. James Clark said in a statement. “At some point, while returning home, the victim received multiple shots to the chest.”
The gunman fled in a different vehicle after shooting the woman.
Police say the baby was staying with her grandfather during the three-day investigation. She’s now caring for Collette-Norton’s other baby, who is one.
Police previously arrested a suspect in the case who is accused of having fired the gun, but the suspect fled. Elder said they are looking for a third person of interest.
“We believe someone in the group that we are talking to heard shots fired and could shed light on the incident,” Elder said. “I have definitely talked to people who say they heard shots fired. People in the community say they heard shots. It’s just heartbreaking. It’s kind of like a slap in the face, but a tougher slap when you lose a child.”
Misconduct allegations against the private school where Jennifer Collette-Norton sent her two children
Kevin Libal, the executive director of Latchkey Academy, a private school which Collette-Norton and her children attended, wrote an open letter after news of her death broke, saying she worked tirelessly to provide a “perfectly structured” learning environment for her students.
“Although our school has not had any kind of disciplinary issue or situation [with] Ms. Collette, it is an honor to have known and loved her,” Libal wrote. “She was a beautiful, intelligent woman who generously shared her time and knowledge and embraced any opportunity and opportunity that came her way.”
Police said they’re still looking for the gunman.
If you have any information that could assist police, you can email Detective R.M. Witter at [email protected] or dial 215-686-TIPS (8477). Tips can also be provided anonymously by texting to PA Crime Stoppers at 274637 or via texting TIP187 to CRIMES (274637). Anonymous tips can also be submitted at tipsubmit.com.