GEORGE TOWN (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - It was the after-office rush hour and Ruby Lee Poh Ai had just left her freight forwarding company at a building in Lebuh Pekaka 1.
However, just some five minutes later, Lee was dead, gunned down hitman-style.
As her white car pulled out onto the main road that leads to Jalan Bukit Gambir at around 5.45pm, two men drew up on a motorcycle beside her car.
Suddenly, the pillion rider fired at least 10 shots at her.
Lee, 49, died on the spot. At least six shots struck her and her car rammed into a four-wheel drive in front at Jalan Pekaka here before screeching to a stop.
The driver of the four-wheel drive escaped unhurt.
Police believe that the assailants had been waiting for her to leave the office before killing her.
Penang CID chief Senior Asst Comm Zainol Samah said she had been working in a shipping and logistics industry.
"She was neither a Datin or Datin Seri. She was also not the wife of any gangster as far as we know.
"The incident is not related to any gangland activity.
"We are still in the dark over the motive," SAC Zainol said, adding that the case had been classified as murder under Section 302 of the Penal Code.
Met at the crime scene last night, SAC Zainol urged the public not to speculate on the incident and asked for those with information to call the Rakan COP hotline at 04-269 1999 or any police station.
On rumours that Lee was pregnant, SAC Zainol said she did not seem to be.
Sources said Lee's husband was a partner in a nightclub business on the island.
A check by The Star on her exclusive condominium unit in Tanjung Bungah showed that it was quiet and no one seemed to be in.
Police have since set up roadblocks in several areas, including Batu Lanchang, Air Itam and Paya Terubong, to track down the assailants.
A 25-year-old student, who declined to be named, said he was driving along the same road when he heard what sounded like firecrackers exploding.
"I did not think these were gunshots at first.
"I wound down my window and heard more loud noises.
"Then, I saw people crowding around. I parked my car and when I got nearer, I saw a car with bullet holes in the window.
"I realised that the loud noises were actually gunshots," he said, adding that he then alerted the police.
The hit was reminiscent of an incident last July when a real estate agent was shot dead - also at close range by two assailants on a motorcycle while she was driving in Kuala Lumpur.
Datin Renyce Wong Siew Ling was gunned down while driving her vehicle in Taman OUG.
Her eight-year-old daughter, who was in the front passenger seat, was hit by a stray bullet. It pierced her intestines in nine places.
Wong was driving her five children, aged between two and 13, with her maid to have lunch at a restaurant when she was shot.
Businessman Chin Kok Leong, who was among the seven people charged with the shooting, allegedly hired two hitmen - M. Pal Ganapathy and S. Vijendran - to kill Wong over a RM13 million (S$ 4.14 million) debt.
Wong, 32, was said to have transferred RM5mil and RM8mil in two transactions to the businessman in 2015 as investments in a ceramics business, but nothing came out of it.
She then hired a private investigator to track Chin down.
In another incident in Penang last December, businessman Ong Teik Kwong, 32, died after his bodyguard opened fire while they were travelling in a car.
Datuk Ong was allegedly shot in the back of his head by Ja'afar Halid, 37, who reportedly became upset when his boss asked him why he had taken out his firearm at a restaurant two hours earlier.
Stray bullets from Ja'afar's gun hit several passers-by on the highway.
He faces charges for three murders and five attempted murders, and one charge for voluntarily causing hurt using a dangerous weapon.