Cleveland woman killed by stray bullet while celebrating birthday

CLEVELAND - A 45-year-old Cleveland woman, caught in the crossfire of two men in a shootout, is dead. Valetta Martin died at an area hospital from her wounds.

"This is not right," said her sister, Pamela Heart West with tears in her eyes. "I don't like no one at this apartment complex because someone know something."

Martin died outside her apartment and her body lie on the ground as people at the Amesbury Roselinda Apartments ducked for cover.

"I never even looked out the window I just took cover," one man said who did not want to be identified. "It lasted for about 15 minutes. You hear shots around here all the time."

Police do not have any suspects, but did pour through surveillance video the complex has on several of its buildings, including the victim's apartment.

Detectives left without giving up any information as to whether the video showed anything that would help them solve the crime.

Neighbors said the shooting took place in a field belonging to a charter school adjacent to the apartment complex. A school administrator said their cameras are pointed at the door and not toward the field. The shootout went in all directions and traveled some distance, police said.

A satellite campus at Case Western Reserve University had one of its windows shattered by bullets. A security guard told police he heard between 20-30 rounds ring out. CWRU put out a statement which read:

We at Case Western Reserve express our deepest sympathy to the family and friends of the victim of this tragedy. This incident underscores the random and often incomprehensible nature of violence. The safety of our community is the university's highest priority. We are reviewing our procedures and protocols for this portion of the university campus, and will adapt them as our findings and best practices warrant

Another woman, who did not want to be identified, said Martin was celebrating her birthday Wednesday night, even though it was actually Feb. 12, when she was killed.

"She told me she had a cigarette and some beer and when I see her come on down, I looked and I seen her hit the ground," the woman said. The witness heard gunshots ring out and couldn't get to her friend lying on the ground and still breathing.

"Everybody was trying to get out of the way 'cause you didn't know where it was coming from or who those bullets were going to hit."

Heart West said she had planned a big birthday for her sister this Saturday, but now she has to plan for a funeral. She urges whomever shot her sister to turn themselves in.

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