NYACK, N.Y. (AP) — A pregnant mother of six who police say was killed when a driver intentionally hit her family outside a convenience store was mourned and celebrated Thursday for her kindness and generous spirit.
Melissa DeLoatch's children sat in a pew with her husband during her funeral at St. Ann's Church in suburban Nyack, according to the Journal News .
The Rev. Roman Palecko told Shawn DeLoatch that the children can learn and grow spiritually despite their loss.
"I know this is not easy," he said, "but it is your mission."
"They were good kids, and she was a good mother," said Brent Newbury, a neighbor and retired South Nyack-Grand View police chief.
DeLoatch, 32, shielded her youngest child, a girl in a stroller, on Feb. 20 when a driver mowed down the family outside a 7-Eleven store in Haverstraw, police said. Her husband and the children, ages 11 months to 10 years, required hospital treatment.
Sean DeLoatch had argued with Jason Mendez after telling him not to smoke in front of the children as the family entered the store, police said.
Mendez then "intentionally drove his vehicle across the parking lot of the 7-Eleven store ... into a family of eight persons standing on the sidewalk out front," according to the felony complaint. "After striking this family with his vehicle, Mendez reversed backwards approximately 20 feet (six meters), put his car into drive, and drove forward over the members of the family a second time."
The defendant then tried to flee. When two police officers stopped him, he got out and menaced them with a razor blade, the complaint said. They repeatedly ordered him to drop it then used a stun gun on him.
An email requesting comment was sent to Mendez's attorney on Thursday.
The family has ties to Nyack and Newburgh and recently had moved in with Shawn DeLoatch's parents in Stony Point.
"She would give you the shirt off her back; she would give you her last piece of bread," Melissa DeLoatch's mother, Joan Christopher, previously told the Journal News. "When it came to her children, she protected them and did everything for them."