A mother loading her 2-year-old son into an SUV used her body to protect the toddler before she was shot and killed in an ensuing midday gunbattle at a Sacramento strip mall, sheriff's officials said Wednesday.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A mother loading her 2-year-old son into an SUV used her body to protect the toddler before she was shot and killed in an ensuing midday gunbattle at a Sacramento strip mall, sheriff's officials said Wednesday.

Monique Nelson, 30, had just strapped her son into his car seat when she was struck in the chest, and detectives believe she positioned herself to protect her son, Sacramento County Sheriff's Sgt. Tim Curran said. "She was found with her body over the young child," he said. "So we believe she did hear the gunfire."

A second victim, 20-year-old Marvion Barksdale, also died from injuries suffered in the shootout after being taken to a hospital where he underwent surgery for a chest wound, Curran said. Five other men were injured in the gunfight. All are expected to survive.

Nelson died at the scene, where Metro Fire and sheriff department personnel were seen attempting to entertain her son following the shooting.

The child was unharmed and has been reunited with members of his family, according to authorities.

Family members did not immediately return a phone message left Wednesday at their bookstore, where Nelson worked as a supervisor, according to the Sacramento Bee.

Nelson's brother, Richard Nelson, told the newspaper his sister was "bubbly, outgoing, always had a smile on her face."

He said her biggest passion was her son.

"All about her son. She loved her son dearly," he said. "She was a good mother."