By Madisen Keavy

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — A mother used her body as a human shield to protect her 11-year-old daughter and 14-year-old son during a mass shooting on a Greyhound bus in Oroville Wednesday night.

Karin Dalton, 43, lived in Washington and was on her way to New Mexico with her children. Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said deputies first got a 911 call around 7:30 p.m. about a shooting taking place on a Greyhound bus near the AM/PM on Feather River and Oro Dam boulevards.

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Dalton’s 11-year-old daughter was shot in the gunfire and her 14-year-old son was not injured. They became separated in the chaos after the shooting and went inside the AM/PM for help.

There, they were greeted by Mary Metoyer, an employee who said she helped Dalton’s daughter who held onto her tightly.

“My mom is a hero. The only reason my little sister is here is because she protected her,” said Nicholas Castillo, her son.

Castillo said Dalton told him, and his younger siblings, that she would give her life for them. This, he said, he never dreamed would become a reality.

“She was powerful, strong, she definitely had fire in her heart. She always said that if something happened, she’d give her life for us. So, absolutely that night she took that protected my little sister,” said Castillo.

Dalton’s cousin, Michael Hart, told CBS13 Dalton’s act of protection was “beautiful” but it shouldn’t have been needed. The crime, he said, was “senseless” and “there is no why.”

The suspect has since been identified as 21-year-old Asaahdi Elijah Coleman, a Sacramento resident.

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Investigators say Coleman had boarded the bus, which was bound to Los Angeles, in Redding. The bus stopped in Red Bluff and Chico before stopping in Oroville. Passengers reported that Coleman appears to have made or received a phone call that made him agitated and, at some point, he reportedly showed people a firearm he had in his bag.

“She should’ve never had to be the hero, but she did, and she’s a beautiful person for that,” said Hart.

The last 48 hours have been a blur for Dalton’s extended family, in organizing travel to get to the Sacramento-area to be with her 11-year-old daughter, who Hart said, is not just good but “great.” Dalton’s family anticipates her daughter will be released from UC Davis Medical Center sooner than later.

“His mom stood in front of her kids and took those shots in her back,” said Hart.

In the hour after the shooting, Castillo said his 14-year-old brother called to tell him what had happened.

“At first it was jumbled, my little brother [spoke in] broken sentences,” Castillo said, “It was kind of broken up, ‘Greyhound shot’ and I was like, I don’t know what’s going on. When I called, I heard my little brother on the phone trying to tell me what he could.”

“It doesn’t seem real,” said Castillo.

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The family is fundraising for funeral and future medical costs.