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A pregnant woman was shot dead in northwest Toronto late Sunday, but her baby was saved after an emergency delivery in hospital, police say. Investigators are seeking public help after Candice Rochelle Bobb, 35, was killed while in the backseat of a car stopped in the Jamestown Crescent area.

Rochelle Bobb had just started telling extended family about her third pregnancy a few weeks ago, saying a baby shower was in the works.

Life as a single mother was busy, but Ms. Bobb, 35, was known for the attention she lavished on her older sons, ages 16 and 11. She even found the time to help with other people's kids, trying recently to find a kitten for her cousin's little girl.

The next thing her family heard, Ms. Bobb had been shot while sitting in a parked car, the latest apparently random victim of Toronto's soaring rates of gun violence – and only the baby had survived, delivered by emergency caesarian section four months early as his mother died.

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"I'm still lost. I'm confused. … Why her?" said Ms. Bobb's cousin, Jovonne Cater.

"I just hope they find out who did this, and I hope they're seeing this on the news and feeling very terrible right now, because she was a single mother – there's two boys without two parents now."

Ms. Bobb, whose full name was Candice Rochelle Bobb, lived in northern Mississauga, Ont. On Sunday night, she went to an amateur men's league basketball game in Toronto's east end with three men, one of whom was playing in the game, police said.

The group was on the way back when the driver pulled over in the Rexdale area of Etobicoke to drop off one of the men. While the car was stationary, it was hit by several bullets. Ms. Bobb, who was in the back seat, was struck in the chest. No one else in the car was hit, police said.

Ms. Bobb was pronounced dead after her infant was delivered at the Etobicoke General Hospital. The newborn, who Ms. Cater believes is a boy, is in stable condition.

It was unclear who was the intended victim, but "that vehicle was certainly targeted," homicide squad Detective Sergeant Mike Carbone told reporters.

Police have recovered several shell casings, are canvassing the neighbourhood and are looking for surveillance-camera footage, Det. Sgt. Carbone said. On Monday morning, they had no description of the shooter and were not able to say if the shots had come from someone on foot or in a car.

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The other occupants of the car were not known to police and are co-operating with detectives, he added.

Toronto's authorities condemned the shooting, with Mayor John Tory calling Ms. Bobb's death a "travesty."

"My heart goes out in particular to her baby," the mayor said. "No baby should come into this world without a mother."

Toronto has seen an alarming spike in murders in recent months. There were 122 shootings, 18 of which have been classified as murder, during the first four months of 2016 compared to 80 shootings and six murders for the same period last year.

Mayor Tory said he had spoken to police about his frustration, and was told 86 people had been arrested in Toronto's northwest area since February.

Sunday's shooting occurred on John Garland Boulevard, between Jamestown Crescent and Martin Grove Road, the site of a public-housing project that has had an exceptional number of gun deaths in recent years.

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There was recently a drive-by shooting in the area, although no one was hurt, local councillor Vincent Crisanti said. He expressed shock over Sunday's incident.

"It's terrible. How do you deal with that? A mom not being able to see her child. That is very, very devastating. It touches me so deeply," Mr. Crisanti said. "Lives are being taken without second thoughts."

Police say they are taking measures to manage the skyrocketing rates of gun crime, including in the Jamestown area. But there are no easy answers, police spokesman Mark Pugash said. Police are shifting resources to the highest-priority areas, he said, but he would not give further details.

Superintendent Ron Taverner, unit commander of the local police station, said "there's no doubts" more guns are on the streets. "We're all kind of in shock," he said after Ms. Bobb's death. "The whole city is outraged that this can happen."

Jamestown resident Janet Delisser said police have been bracing for more gang activity in the summer.

"The cops, they've been here a lot – in the morning and in the afternoon, after school," she said in an interview.

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People want help from police, but do not tip them off because "they're scared for their kids and other family members," Ms. Delisser said.

No one in Jamestown seems to have known Ms. Bobb, Ms. Delisser said.

"Wrong place, wrong time, I guess," said Ms. Bobb's cousin, Ms. Cater. "She was never a girl to be in any confrontation with nobody. So nobody would even have targeted her."

Ms. Bobb will be remembered as the "life of the party," Ms. Cater said.

"She was just full of life," she said. "I can't wrap my head around this right now. It's not real until I actually see her baby.

"But she'll be missed. She'll be greatly missed."

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A family member will take custody of Ms. Bobb's baby if he lives, Ms. Cater said.

"Our family is very tight-knit. … Her kids will be fine other than the fact that they have no mother any more," she said.

"You know, I think God wouldn't permit [the baby to die]," she said. "That baby's going to pull through. He just has to. He's a miracle baby."

With reports from Jeff Gray, Laurient Bastien Corbeil and Affan Chowdhry

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