The woman fatally shot in a car with her two young children in the back seat was identified Wednesday as a 23-year-old from Fort Wayne.
Lashonda Denise Eldridge was shot Tuesday night while sitting in the driver's seat of a red vehicle parked in an alley between Lillie Street and South Anthony Boulevard north of Pontiac Street, officials said.
The Allen County coroner confirmed Wednesday that Eldridge died from gunshot wounds and ruled her death the 16th homicide this year, less than 24 hours after the 15th homicide claimed the life of a 56-year-old man.
Eldridge's children, ages 2 and 5, suffered minor injuries from broken glass, police said.
After witnessing an act as traumatic as a homicide, children may begin to act out behaviorally, said Crystal Kelly, a local licensed mental health counselor. She noted there's a difference between children and adults when it comes to traumatic events.
“Children take in trauma internally,” Kelly said.
They often express their feelings through their behavior because they don't know what to say or how to say it, she added. Given the children's ages in this case, she said, that could mean tantrums or behavioral issues in school.
But, Kelly said, it's equally important to understand that each child is different and may have different needs.
It's necessary to hear children when they express themselves behaviorally, Kelly said. Parents, guardians and school officials should look for signs and seek professional help if necessary.
Play therapy is a common method used to help kids express themselves after a traumatic event. It can consist of artwork and other activities designed to help children express themselves and work through their trauma.
“It's about getting them to express how they're feeling inside if they're not able to verbalize what they're feeling,” Kelly said.
Anyone with information about Tuesday night's homicide is asked to call police at 260-427-1222 or Crime Stoppers at 260-436-7867. No suspect information has been released.