Family and friends held hands, bowed their heads and prayed together Thursday night as police cleared crime scene tape after a 56-year-old Baton Rouge woman was fatally shot on Evangeline Street.

Denise Williams, a mother of four daughters and a longtime general manager at a Popeyes restaurant in Plaquemine, had finished working her shift and was riding in a vehicle that stopped at a red light at Evangeline Street and North Foster Drive when she was shot, according to Baton Rouge police spokesman Sgt. L’Jean McKneely Jr.

Witnesses told police a man walked up to the stopped vehicle around 8 p.m. and fired once, hitting Williams. The driver continued down Evangeline Street and stopped in the parking lot of the Family Dollar on Airline Highway to call police, but Williams died on the scene, McKneely said.

Williams' stepdaughter, Nedra Cainesdescribed her as a giving person.

"She gave us work and took care of her home and her kids and anybody else," said Caines, a McKinley High School graduate. "She was a special, outgoing person. She wouldn't harm anyone."

Lakeisha Winns and another co-worker came to the scene from the Plaquemine Popeyes where they worked with Williams after hearing about the shooting.

"She was just a dedicated worker," Winns said of Williams, who had worked at the restaurant for more than 30 years. "I've been knowing her all my life, since I was 18. I could go to her and talk to her. She's not a bad person at all."

Winns said Williams lived in the Glen Oaks area of Baton Rouge.

McKneely said investigators have not identified the shooter and do not know his motive for shooting her.

A 17-year-old Glen Oaks High student was fatally shot three hours later and two miles from where Williams died. It was less than a  half a mile down Airline Highway from where a 51-year-old homeless man was shot and killed a week earlier.

Police do not believe any of the three fatal shootings are connected, McKneely said Friday. Police have not made arrested in any of the killings.


Follow Emma Discher on Twitter, @EmmaDischer.