A woman who was gunned down in the doorway of an east Hamilton apartment building early Monday has been identified as 37-year-old Nicole Dragisic.

Police called it a targeted attack.

Media reports and police news releases show that Dragisic dealt with drug problems in her life, and had faced weapons and drug possession charges. They also state that she had five children.

Still, friends and family remembered her fondly as scores of tributes poured in on her Facebook page. 

Dragisic's sister in law told a reporter that the family is not speaking to the press.

"This is just so fresh ... please give us some space," she said.

Other friends asked not to be identified and refused interviews for fear of reprisal with the suspects still out there.

Barton Lottridge

Police are investigating after a woman was shot and killed overnight on Barton Street East near Lottridge Street. (Tony Smyth/CBC)

Her death is the city's 7th homicide of the year.

It happened on Barton Street East near Lottridge Street South, police say, around 3:45 a.m. this morning.

That's when two men approached the apartment and there was "some kind of interaction" at the doorway, and the woman was shot, Det. Sgt. Peter Thom told reporters outside Hamilton police headquarters.

'Apart from there being someone carrying a gun around the city, there's no overt threat to the public at this time.' - Det. Sgt. Peter Thom

"Efforts to resuscitate her both by police and paramedics were conducted," Thom said. 

"She was transported to Hamilton general hospital and subsequent efforts to save her life were unsuccessful, and she was pronounced [dead] at the hospital."

"It was a targeted attack. We're fairly confident of that," he said.

But it's not clear why exactly Dragisic was targeted, or for what. Thom said she was "known to police," but didn't elaborate. He couldn't say if the shooting was drug-related, or if it is linked to one of over 30 other shootings that have happened in Hamilton so far this year — which has already outpaced last year's total.

"All options are open at this time," Thom said.

'You would always be there for me when I needed you'

Thom said investigators have been trying to track down Dragisic's mother, and said she had "extensive" family across the province.

"I will always remember how you taught me how to stand up for myself when I was younger. I will miss you," wrote one person online.

"We've been friends for over 30+ years. We've had our ups and downs, different choices in life but at the end of the day you were a good hearted person," wrote another. "You would always be there for me when I needed you. That is what I'm going to remember most."

Not a random act, police say

Police say Dragisic wasn't alone at the time of the shooting. Thom said her boyfriend and another person were inside at the time, and they have been cooperating with police. Thom "couldn't say" if anyone knew the people who came to the door.

So far, no weapon has been recovered. Detectives say they don't yet know what led to the shooting, or if the victim was expecting them.

"It was not a random act," Thom said. "Apart from there being someone carrying a gun around the city, there's no overt threat to the public at this time."

Police Barton Lottridge shooting

Police taped off a crime scene around 3:30 a.m. near Barton and Lottridge streets in Hamilton. (Tony Smyth/CBC)

Police will be in the area today, Thom said, looking for witnesses and searching for security camera video that might help them understand what happened.

Thom said they are hoping to speak to anyone who was in the area of Barton and Lottridge around 3:45 a.m. or 3:50 a.m. this morning who may have seen something and then "taken off from the scene because they were afraid for their own safety or they witnessed something."

The only suspect description police have to work with at this point is they are searching for two men, one taller than the other, dressed in dark clothing.

Thom said there may have been a third person involved as well, but it's not clear if they were actually involved, or just a witness to the killing.

adam.carter@cbc.ca