A Prince William County family is struggling to come to terms with the toll gun violence is taking on them after a mother and grandmother was shot near a 7-Eleven in Woodbridge.
Claudia Beatriz Morataya, 46, had five children and six grandchildren.
She was shot to death on Friday near the convenience store at the corner of Richmond Highway and the Prince William County Parkway. Her body was found in the woods behind the store.
Her family is devastated.
Morataya’s daughter Cinthya Morales turned 28 on Tuesday. Instead of a birthday celebration, there was sorrow.
“I was hoping Sunday I could plan a barbecue and a birthday party and invite her over,” Morales said through tears. “Instead, I’m trying to figure out how I’m going to get my mom cremated.”
Morataya’s fiancé Sean Jones also dealing with the sudden loss of his partner of 12 years.
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“This gun violence, you know, for one second [of] action — the toll is taken on me and I’m broken. I’m broken, her family is broken,” Jones said.
Prince William police say Morataya was shot multiple times following an argument. She’d walked away into a wooded area, but police say a man — 26-year-old Isaiah McGriff — followed and shot her. He was arrested the next day and charged with second-degree murder.
“Ever since I was informed he was captured, I’ve felt nothing but peace,” Morales said.
Morales says that even though she was primarily raised by her grandmother, she and Claudia were close.
She says her mom did everything to support herself from laying tile to selling water. Her proudest day: Recently earning a certification with the hope of someday becoming an electrician.
Morataya’s loved ones say even though she had her own challenges, she frequently visited the 7-Eleven and befriended those down on their luck.
“She was a great person. She would help anybody that needed help,” Jones said.
Claudia’s fiancé and family are blaming ready access to guns for ending her life.
“Anybody is capable of getting their hands on a firearm,” Morales said.
Morales is focused now not on the case against the accused killer, but on laying her mom to rest.
“My duty now is to heal so I can push forward for my family,” Morales said. The family has created an online donation page to seek help with funeral expenses.