A 55-year-old American missionary was ambushed and killed by gunmen while driving in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on Saturday. A 4-year-old child who was traveling with her was abducted and hasn’t been seen since the incident.
Roberta Edwards was the director of Sonlight Children’s Home, a foster home and nutrition center overseen by her Tennessee-based church, Estes Church of Christ. She has lived in Haiti, caring for children — many of them orphans — since 2002.
The attack occurred after Edwards left the Sonlight guest home where her friend and a fellow volunteer Bobbie Solley was staying that night, according to USA Today.
As she drove through the streets of Haiti’s Croix-des-Bouquets district, another vehicle blocked her path. Gunmen emerged from the vehicle and fired into her car, killing her, Estes Church said in a statement.
Two boys who were traveling with her were able to escape and ran for help, said Solley, who is director of international education development with Healing Hands International. But a 4-year-old was taken by the assailants. Solley told USA Today that she was notified about the incident between 10:30 and 11 p.m.
“Roberta was remarkable. She had an unwavering love of God, her children and the people of Haiti,” Jesse Robertson, minister at Estes Church of Christ and a longtime friend of Edwards, said in a statement. “We are absolutely devastated by her loss.”
Edwards knew the risks associated with working in Haiti, the hemisphere’s poorest country. But she was committed to her work there anyway.
Edwards “had committed herself to care for children in Haiti despite these risks,” the church said.
Haitian authorities are investigating the crime but have not identified any suspects.
“Investigators are working to find the killers and the kidnapped child,” Haitian National Police spokesman Frantz Lerebours said, according to the Associated Press.
A spokeswoman for the U.S. State Department said consular assistance is being offered to Edwards’s family, according to NBC News.
“Haiti is a violent place,” Robertson told USA Today. But he added, “We’ve never had anything like this happen.” He said that he does not feel the group’s missionaries are being targeted but that they have nonetheless “increased security features.”