SACRAMENTO, Calif. - A mother loading her 2-year-old son into an SUV was killed yesterday and five others were wounded in a gunbattle at a strip mall in south Sacramento, authorities said.

Two men were inside Fly Cuts & Styles barbershop just before 1 p.m. when two other men entered and began shooting, said Sacramento County Sheriff's Sgt. Tim Curran.

The men in the barbershop were armed and returned fire, Curran said.

The gunbattle apparently moved into the parking lot, where at least one of the shooters got into a white sedan. Curran said that the gunfire continued as some of the gunmen got away.

A bullet struck the 30-year-old woman in the chest just after she put her son into the child seat of her Chevy Tahoe, Curran said. The woman was pronounced dead at the scene. The child was unhurt and has been placed under child-protective services.

"We believe she's a totally innocent victim," Curran said.