An already sad occasion was rendered devastating early Saturday in Gastonia, NC, when a South Carolina woman in town for her sister-in-law's funeral was killed by gunfire that bombarded the home she was visiting, the Charlotte Observer reports. Jacobia English Lane had joined a gathering of friends and family members (the Observer, the AP, and WSOC say up to 30 had congregated; the Gaston Gazette says 17) on the eve of the funeral for her sister-in-law, who had died after a long battle with cancer, when about 30 bullets from what a local detective confirmed was a high-powered rifle flew through the air outside and struck her brother's home at around 12:30am; one bullet hit the 37-year-old Lane in the back of the head as she sat on a couch inside, family spokesman Christopher Dennis says.
Dennis—who calls the occurrence a "senseless, unprovoked act of violence," per the Observer—says a bullet also pierced a pillow on a bed where Lane's husband was sleeping, though he wasn't injured. Lane's 13-year-old son and 16-year-old daughter witnessed her death. Cops say a teen in the home was also hit in the arm with a bullet but will be fine. "My sister and my wife were best friends," Tim English, Lane's brother and the deceased woman's widower, tells the Gazette, noting how Lane would often make the two-hour drive to visit his wife during her illness. "We were all just ... remembering the good times we had with my wife." Police are asking for the public's help in Identifying the shooter. "I think they're going to turn themselves in because of their conscience," English says. "But if anybody has anything, please come forward." (This man lured his wife to her death by killing her family.)