HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Police believe a woman shot and killed outside the gym she frequents in southeast Houston was an innocent victim in a string of attempted carjackings.
Houston police responded to a shooting just before 5 a.m. Thursday outside Life Fit Personal Fitness Studio, located in the 10500 block of Fuqua Street near Beamer Road.
According to HPD, the woman, identified as 62-year-old Elsa Mikeska, pulled into the parking lot at the gym for a 5 a.m. workout. That's when a white, older model SUV pulled into the parking lot two spaces away. When Mikeska got out of her car to walk into the gym, two male suspects exited the rear passenger doors of the SUV and said something to her, police say.
When Mikeska took off running toward the gym, the suspects shot her in the back, according to police. The suspects then got back into the SUV and exited the parking lot.
Mikeska was pronounced dead at the scene.
Friends of the Mikeska gathered in prayer on Thursday, right outside of the gym where she was shot. Family members say she was a mother and grandmother, who attended the gym regularly.
"Hopefully they understand they did something to somebody (who's) a grandmother, a sister, mother, wife," said Frank Delgado, who attends the gym.
"She's just at the gym trying to work out and is confronted by these individuals who had no regard for life," HPD Commander Belinda Null said at the scene. "Turn yourself in, because we're coming."
Police believe the same suspects robbed a woman whose car broke down on the side of the road at Clearcroft and Freehill, which is less than three miles from the gym.
"Her vehicle was actually disabled. She thought they were stopping to help her. They attempted to steal her vehicle. She explained to them her vehicle was not operable," said Null.
ABC13 spoke with a neighbor who said he helped the victim with the disabled car. He said around 4 a.m. on Thursday she ran up to him saying a gun was pointed at her. She said the perpetrators stole her phone and her wallet. He called 911.
The crimes have left the community shaken.
"It's actually really shocking to hear that one of our community members passed away," said Lizbeth Ojeda, who lives in the area.
"Be aware of your surroundings," Null said. "Unfortunately, these people are out here preying on people who are just trying to go about their daily lives."
Police are looking for three suspects: the two men who got out of the SUV and the driver. Officers say the two men seen are Hispanic males in their early 20s.
Police are asking any other potential victims of similar overnight carjackings to contact the HPD Homicide Division.