Police are investigating robbery as a possible motive in the shooting death of their colleague's 79-year-old mother affectionately known to neighbors as "Miss Cleo," Lt. Andy Nieman with LAPD said Monday night.
Officers won't reveal what led them to that possibility, but Nieman said detectives, who went door-to-door Monday speaking to the victim's neighbors, made that determination.
The officer discovered his mother's body Sunday afternoon in the bedroom of her home on West 66th St. in South Los Angeles. She suffered a gunshot wound to the chest.
"He checks up on his mother every day, they do the phone call thing," said Allyson Smith, a family friend. "She didn't respond, so he came over here and that's when he found her, from my understanding."
The victim was identified as Cleo Hughes, a neighborhood icon who neighbors say would sit on her front porch, cellphone in hand, and bid them farewell in the morning and welcome them home at night.
"She was an angel to me," said Clarence Brown, the victim’s friend.
LAPD officials say the officer, the victim's only son, is in charge of training recruits. He returned to the home for about 30 minutes Monday.
Hughes' home is in the middle of 66th Street, an area in South LA that neighbors say does not have much crime, but it's immune to it either.
"Maybe now that this has happened, maybe now that it’s a police officer who’s affected they will do something more about our neighborhood," said Jose Martinez, neighbor.
Candles burned outside the chainlink fence that surrounded Hughes' home Monday, when friends and neighbors continued to question the woman's death.
"It makes no sense. No sense," said friend Monique Moore. "For somebody to shoot an elderly lady like that, what could she do?"
Moore told NBC4 the woman she knew as "Miss Cleo" used to serve meals at her brother's nearby restaurant. Jack's Family Kitchen was closed Monday.