Man tried to help woman seconds before Cumberland Mall shooting

RAW SOUND: Mall shooting witness tried to save victim

He didn't know the man beating and choking a woman outside of Cumberland Mall. But Devin Cummings said today he knew he had to help.

"He knocked off whatever she had on her head and he started choking her," Cummings told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "She was screaming, 'Please don't kill me. Somebody help me.'"

Cummings tried to talk to the man, later identified as Danny Wray Brown. But Brown wasn't listening.

Instead, Brown pulled out a gun and began shooting Monday afternoon at the Cobb County mall.

"He just let go and started shooting," Cummings said.

One shot hit a car and one hit the Macy's building, Cummings said. But at least one shot struck Violet Lambert, killing her.

Family members said Tuesday that Lambert and Brown were longtime friends and former co-workers. But even though Brown had a romantic interest in Lambert, she had a longtime boyfriend, her niece, Tiffany Ransom, told The AJC.

Lambert, 55, was a mother of three grown sons and a grandmother of seven, Ransom said. A friend of Lambert's said Brown had been stalking Lambert. But Lambert did not believe Brown would physically harm her.

After shooting Lambert, Brown left the mall in a white van, Cobb County police said. Cummings, who was leaving the mall with his girlfriend and 3-year-old daughter, said his girlfriend was one of many to call 911 after shots were fired.

With the help of witnesses, police used the van's tag number to track it to Brown's home in East Point. Within hours of the shooting outside the mall, Brown was found dead in his home of a self-inflicted gunshot, police said.

Cummings, 26, said today he wishes he could have done more to help the woman, but he doesn't regret getting involved, even knowing he also could've died.

"You almost don't even think," Cummings said. "It was like natural instinct. I can't even explain it where it came from."

Cummings hopes to talk to Lambert's family in the coming days. Funeral arrangements for Lambert have not yet been announced.