Conekia "Coco" Finney was looking for a new start when she moved into a shingle-sided apartment building on Merchant Street in Ambridge two days ago.
But that apartment -- at its threshold -- is where the pregnant 19-year-old met her end Sunday evening when she was shot at her doorstep in the small Beaver County community's first homicide of the year. The child would have been the second for her and boyfriend Steven Murray.
Patrolman Timothy Depenhart, who was the first on the scene and saw the young woman shot in the chest, said Ms. Finney was planning to meet her mother, Elaine Finney, who was picking her up from the apartment she shared with Mr. Murray.
When she opened the door, at around 8:25 p.m., she was met by two men in dark clothing with hoods concealing their faces. Wordlessly, one of the men pulled out a gun and shot her at point-blank range in the left side of her chest, leaving her and her unborn daughter to die on the porch. People told police that they heard no words exchanged, just the sound of the door opening and then the single gunshot.
The men then ran away, disappearing into nearby back roads, he said. Police had not determined if they had a car.
When Patrolman Depenhart arrived at the scene, she had stopped breathing. Both Ms. Finney and the unborn child were pronounced dead at the scene.
Sgt. James Mann, acting chief of the Ambridge police, said officers and District Attorney Anthony Berosh had worked furiously through the night to find those responsible, adding that the community was deeply shaken by the brazen crime.
"We are extremely upset about this," he said. "I can't think of anyone who would shoot someone dead ... let alone someone who's seven months pregnant."
But he declined to release any more information because he feared it would compromise the investigation. Police planned to charge the gunman with two counts of criminal homicide because Ms. Finney was pregnant.
Her family, though, told KDKA they believe the gunman was targeting Ms. Finney's boyfriend, Mr. Murray, a 22-year-old with a checkered past, according to online criminal records.
"They were looking for him ... and my daughter got caught up in the aftermath," said Stephen Finney, the victim's father.
Mr. Murray is currently facing trial on a slew of charges -- including aggravated assault, possessing a firearm without a license, reckless endangerment and terroristic threats -- stemming from a September 2011 arrest. In 2010, he pleaded guilty to marijuana possession and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Her family advised her to leave him because they feared she would get mixed up in his run-ins with the law.
"I did tell her, 'Mama knows ... this man is going to cause you to die,' " Elaine Finney said.
Other family members recalled Ms. Finney -- who was scheduled to have a cesarean section Dec. 17 -- as bubbly and kind.
"She was a good child, and I'm a good mother, and there was no reason these guys should take my baby," her mother said.
Police asked anyone with information about the shooting to call 724-775-0883.neigh_west
Moriah Balingit: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-2533. Twitter: @MoriahBee.