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Family and friends of Donitra Henderson, 21, of San Leandro, set up a memorial Thursday evening on the North Oakland street where she was shot and killed Wednesday night. (Kristen J. Bender/Staff)

OAKLAND -- A 21-year-old San Leandro woman was shot and killed in her car Wednesday night as her 4-year-old son sat in the back seat, authorities said.

Authorities identified the woman as Donitra Henderson, who was apparently visiting someone in North Oakland when she was shot at 8:45 p.m. on 54th Street, just west of Shattuck Avenue, said Oakland police Lt. Robert Chan. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

It was not clear Thursday if the child, who was not injured, saw the shooting. Still, police tried to comfort the boy after his mother's slaying.

"I wanted to comfort him and keep his mind off what had happened," said Police Chief Howard Jordan, who went to the scene Wednesday night.

The boy played with an officer's flashlight and seemed "very active, very bright," the chief said.

"It is something he will have in his mind for a very long time," Jordan said. "I can't imagine what the impact might be."

A woman who was with Henderson was not injured but needed medical treatment of an undisclosed nature following the shooting, authorities said. She was not identified.

Thursday evening, Henderson's relatives gathered at the scene of the shooting, placing flowers on the sidewalk and spelling out "R.I.P. Donitra" with small candles.

Henderson, a 2010 Oakland Tech graduate, was attending Laney College and hoped to work in nursing or cosmetology, said her mother, Anitra Bishop, 39, of Alameda.


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Bishop described her daughter, one of five siblings, as an outgoing, fun-loving girl who worked at a child-care facility in Berkeley. Henderson didn't get into trouble and didn't have any enemies, Bishop said, adding that she "wouldn't have seen this coming for a million years."

"She lit up the day, and if she loved you, she loved you," Bishop said. "There isn't anyone who had a bad bone in their body for my daughter."

Killings in that area are rare and neighbors reported hearing people fighting before the sound of gunshots. Police have not released either a description of the car or anyone wanted for the killing.

A motive was not known late Thursday.

Police have not made any arrests in the slaying, the 31st in the city this year. Last year at this time, there were 40 homicides in the city.

Police and CrimeStoppers are offering up to $10,000 for information leading to an arrest. Anyone with information is asked to call investigators at 510-238-3821 or the lip line at 510-773-2805.

Staff writer Katie Nelson contributed to this story. Reach Harry Harris at hharris@bayareanewsgroup.com. Reach Kristin J. Bender at kbender@bayareanewsgroup.com. Follow her at Twitter.com/kjbender.