Dorine Fostion was watching television in her Southeast Washington apartment at 10:30 p.m. Wednesday when someone started shooting outside.

Her daughter rushed in from the bedroom when she heard her mother cry out, struck in the side by a stray bullet. Fostion, 46, died an hour later at Washington Hospital Center, becoming the District's 118th homicide victim this year.

"I feel just terrible," said Ryan Fostion, 24, who with her children shared the apartment with her mother. "There is no explanation for this. Something has to be done. I don't want this to be another one of those cold case files."

D.C. police said they do not know who the intended target was when shots were fired near the Fostions' apartment complex in the 2700 block of Robinson Place SE.

Dorine Fostion, who was sitting in a chair next to her fourth-floor window, was struck by a single round. Nobody else was wounded.

Detectives are investigating the possibility that the killing is connected to a shooting about 7 p.m. in the same block. A 36-year-old man was wounded in that attack, police said. He was treated at Greater Southeast Community Hospital and released, police said.

Cmdr. Joel Maupin said detectives were having trouble finding witnesses, although a crowd was outside when each shooting occurred. He said the victim of the earlier shooting was not cooperating with authorities.

"He's not giving up any information," Maupin said.

At the time of the gunfire, Dorine Fostion's two grandchildren, Tavon, 7, and Saryaah, 3, were in another room of the apartment. Tavon said yesterday that he was saddened by what had happened to "my best grandmother."

Yesterday afternoon, as a dozen neighbors held an impromptu prayer vigil on the sidewalk in front of the complex, several residents sat on a stoop and said they were shocked by the killing.

They described Dorine Fostion as "the mother of Robinson Place," a woman who often went out of her way to help friends and strangers.

She gave balloons and a card to the mother of a newborn in May. And when a 31-year-old neighbor couldn't afford food a few months ago, Dorine Fostion went to the store and bought her chicken, canned goods and soda.

"She was just perfect," said the 31-year-old woman, who would not give her name because she feared being targeted by the gunman. "She was just a great lady. She always had a smile on her face."

Dorine Fostion was born in Georgia and grew up in the District. She raised her two children, Ryan Fostion and Robert Foster, 30, by herself, relatives said.

"She was a good mother," Foster said. "Everybody around here respected her."

She often took Tavon and Saryaah to the park or on shopping trips. Some weekends, she woke up early and hustled the children onto a bus for a trip downtown. "She wanted to get them out of the neighborhood for a while," her daughter said.

On one wall of the apartment, Dorine Fostion proudly displayed a crayon collage of the family crafted by Tavon.

As an avid watcher of life in her rough neighborhood, Dorine Fostion realized that it might be time to move to a safer part of town. She was saving money to buy a house, relatives said.

She had taped a photograph of her nephew, Victor Fostion, 19, to her living room wall. He was fatally shot last year in Southeast.

"She was saddened by everything that was going on," said her daughter. "She was fed up with it."

Neighbors describe Dorine Fostion, 46, as "the mother of Robinson Place," a woman who went out of her way to help friends and strangers in her Southeast neighborhood.