HAVERSTRAW, N.Y. (AP) — The 32-year-old mother who was killed when an enraged driver plowed into a family of six young children outside a 7-Eleven store in Rockland County is being called a hero.

Melissa DeLoatch was killed when police say 35-year-old Jason Mendez, of Washingtonville, deliberately rammed his car twice into the family after reportedly asked not to smoke in front of the children. It happened Wednesday afternoon in the Town of Haverstraw.

The victim's mother, Joan Christopher, told News 4 New York that her only daughter had thrown herself in front of the car to shield her children, who were all hospitalized with non-life threatening injuries along with their father.

Mendez was subdued by police after refusing to drop a knife. He has pleaded not guilty to murder and attempted murder charges.