The aunt of a Florida woman shot by a Bradley County deputy after police say she slashed him with a knife Saturday said the whole family is in shock over what happened.
"We're all surprised here. I was just hoping it wasn't true," said Sylvia Foster, the aunt of Armetta Foster, 30, of Sanford, Fla.
Armetta Foster died at Erlanger hospital Saturday after crashing the police cruiser she stole from a deputy on Interstate 75 in Cleveland, Tenn., authorities said.
She died of gunshot wounds, according to Kristin Helm, spokeswoman with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, which is heading the investigation.
Authorities said Saturday that several motorists reported seeing a woman and two children walking north on I-75 at mile marker 22. Deputy Dustin Patrick was sent to check on her. As he was talking to her, she pulled a knife and began slashing at him, cutting him on the hand, officials said. Foster ran to his cruiser, leaving the children behind, and Patrick fired his service weapon. She drove away but crashed the car through a fence and into a tree.
Authorities believe Foster had been driving a stolen car that was found at exit 20 after the shooting.
In a telephone interview from Sanford, Sylvia Foster said her niece was traveling to her mother's home in Kentucky to drop her two children off for the summer.
She last saw her niece about a week ago, she said.
"All Armetta told me was that 'When school is out I'm going to take the kids to my mama, and that will take me some time to get re-established,'" Sylvia Foster said.
Armetta, who had been juggling several jobs, was looking for a job and a new place to live.
"She was a pretty young lady. She had a good personality," Sylvia Foster said.
"I don't know if she stole a car. That is what we heard, though," she added.
Sylvia Foster said she wasn't aware of her niece having a criminal record or a history of violence. Records were not available from the Seminole County, Fla., Sheriff's Office on Sunday.
The children were placed in custody of the Department of Children's Services.
Patrick is on administrative leave with pay, which is standard procedure in shooting incidents, authorities said.
Sylvia Foster said Armetta Foster's father is working a military-related post and is coming back to Florida to seek custody of his daughter's children.