NEW YORK - A woman was gunned down in front of her two little daughters as she was taking them to school yesterday morning, police said.

Laikisha Scriven, 30 was pronounced dead at an area hospital about an hour after the 7:15 a.m. shooting. Her daughters, aged 5 and 8, were unharmed but traumatized, police said. They were under observation at a hospital before being released to family members.

Scriven was loading her children into her Ford Explorer for school when a gunman came from behind and shot her in the back of the head, police said. There was no immediate motive for the crime, and the girls told police they didn't recognize the killer.

Police were searching for leads as they combed the blood-spattered SUV for evidence, hauling it away by tow truck. The area remained blocked off yesterday afternoon. The shooting rocked the quiet Bronx street in the Wakefield neighborhood.

Neighbors reported waking to gunshots.

"I heard crying and screaming," neighbor Alicia Parks, 25, told the New York Daily News. "The only thing I kept hearing was, 'Mommy!' When I finally woke up I heard, 'The bad man killed Mommy!' "

Parks said she took the girls into her home as police flooded the area.

"[The older girl] kept saying exactly how it happened," Parks said. "She does remember her mom falling to the floor," said Parks. "After today, you know you're not safe anywhere."

Parks' father, Irven, said he ran outside and saw the woman sprawled at the open back door.

Scriven investigated charges of child neglect as a child-protective-specialist supervisor for the city's child-welfare agency, the Administration for Children's Services.

She was hired in 2005.