Mall shooting victim was mom, grandmom, avid shopper

Violet Lambert loved to shop.

She had her favorite stores. She was the ultimate bargain hunter. She always kept others in mind when she spotted something she just knew they'd like. And she was already searching for the perfect outfit for her son's August wedding.

"She was our little fashionista," Lambert's niece, Tiffany Ransom, said today. "She was definitely a shopper."

That's why Lambert, 55, of Atlanta, was at Cumberland Mall on Monday. But it would be her final shopping trip.

Shortly after 2 p.m., Lambert was shot several times outside Macy's, allegedly by a man she considered a friend. Lambert died from her injuries before her family, including three grown sons, seven grandchildren and two sisters, could say goodbye, Ransom said.

A bystander tried to help Lambert, and Danny Wray Brown fired more shots, Sgt. Dana Pierce with Cobb County police said. But no one else was injured, according to police.

"When officers arrived they located a female, who was lying in the parking lot suffering from gunshot wounds," Pierce said in an emailed statement today.

Witnesses described the white van the suspect got into before leaving the mall, giving police enough information to track the vehicle to a home in East Point. Because the suspect got into the van on the passenger's side, investigators were concerned initially that another driver helped the shooter get away. On Tuesday, Pierce said investigators believe Brown acted alone.

After leaving the mall, Brown called Lambert's middle son and said he'd done something stupid and was going to kill himself, Ransom said. Brown, a longtime co-worker and family friend, was found dead Monday night inside his home from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. East Point and Fulton County police found the man's body in his home after executing a search warrant, Pierce said.

"He followed her to the mall," Ransom said. "You never know what's going in someone's head, but this was really an eyeopener."

Ransom said Lambert and Brown, 59, had worked together for several years at the Friendship Towers, a low-income complex for seniors. In January, Lambert was laid off and Brown later quit.

Brown, Ransom said, had been a friend of the family for years, even attending the December funeral of Lambert's oldest sister. But Brown, family members believe, had a romantic interest in Lambert, who had a longtime boyfriend.

"He understood she had a boyfriend," Ransom said. "We thought he accepted that."

But one family friend of Lambert's, Tony Stroud, told Channel 2, that Brown had begun following the woman.
"He was basically stalking her, you know, he was calling her phone numerous times, parking outside of her place, not coming in just parking and sitting," Stroud said.

Lambert had suggested Brown get help, Stroud said. But Lambert never took action because she believed Brown was harmless, her family said.

Family members can't imagine what led Brown to violence against the grandmother.

"In my whole 39 years, I can't think of a bad incident with her," Ransom said. "She was a just a jewel."

Now, the family is preparing to plan her funeral.

Anyone with additional information about this case is asked to call Cobb County police at 770-499-3945.

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