ATLANTA (CBS46) -- A beloved DeKalb County cashier was shot by a customer who refused to wear a mask Monday. Her family still cannot believe she was shot over something so small.
"Just loving, funny, she was quiet at times but once you got to know her, just an amazing person," Alexis Breland described of her sister. "A dependable person, you always have in your corner."
Although siblings, Laquitta Willis was so much like a second mom to her little sister.
Breland recalled how Willis helped put her through college and always supported her. She says the family is dealing with disbelief, anger, and grief.
"She loved people," the sister sighed.
Breland tells CBS46 Willis was a protector. In fact, she was trying to protect others on Monday, asking shoppers to wear masks.
"A life was lost, a beautiful soul was lost over something that not too long ago was mandatory."
Suspect Victor Tucker refused to put on his mask, after Willis told him about the Big Bear Supermarket policy. Tucker left the store, came back with a gun, then police say he shot the 41-year-old in her head.
"This person meant so much to so many people and this was a senseless death." Breland continued, "So whatever is deemed justice for his actions-- I think everything should be thrown at him."
She cannot help but to think if someone saw the gunman before he made it back inside to kill her sister.
"Just wondering if more could have been done."
Flowers and balloons line the outside of the supermarket where Willis was beloved for her customer service and kindness.
"Her work ethic was impeccable. No matter where she worked she always carried that work ethic where she went and it showed."
Investigators say the suspect is still in the hospital after an off-duty deputy, working a security shift at the store, shot him. The officer was also wounded in the shootout but DeKalb County Sheriff's Office tells CBS46 he is expected to be okay.
Another cashier was grazed by a bullet during the gunfire.
"My sister didn't deserve this."
Breland created a GoFundme to help with funeral expenses.
The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) released this statement in response to the killing:
“For too long, many of our leaders have failed to consider how the changing COVID guidelines affect America’s essential workers who face daily exposure to individuals who are not vaccinated and refuse to wear masks. When workers are forced to play mask and vaccination police, they put their lives at risk. This has now resulted in the heartbreaking murder of an innocent grocery store cashier who was simply doing her job.
“Our country must do more to acknowledge the real and present dangers these workers continue to face on the front lines of the pandemic. As the union for essential food and retail workers, the UFCW is calling on leaders to address the safety threats and concerns of essential workers and act promptly to ensure that these workers and the communities they serve will be protected.”