For nearly a year, Maryann Doto waited for police to catch the man who killed her daughter.

In September, Megan Doto, 25, a pregnant mother of two, was hit in the head by a stray bullet as she sat outside her house in Frankford. The bullet also claimed the life of her infant daughter, Nicoletta, who was delivered by C-section and died the next morning.

For months, the suspect in the killings remained at large - until Wednesday morning, when he was killed in a Northeast Philadelphia apartment in a shootout with SWAT officers who were there to arrest him.

"I don't wish death on anyone," Doto said Wednesday, but she said she had been "praying for this day."

A $40,000 reward was offered in Megan Doto's death, and police identified a suspect within days: Devon Guisherd, 27, a neighborhood man who went on the run soon after the shooting.

About 6 a.m. Wednesday, a SWAT team with warrant in hand burst into an apartment in the 800 block of Riverside Drive where Guisherd had been hiding out, police said. He grabbed a handgun and tried to run. He made it as far as a bedroom, police said. There, he spun to face a SWAT officer and fired a shot from a .40-caliber semiautomatic.

The officer would have been hit in the gut, but his bulletproof vest stopped the shot. The officer fired back and hit Guisherd in the chest, killing him.

"We're very lucky - very fortunate," Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey said.

The officer, a 17-year veteran of the force, was treated at Aria Health-Torresdale Campus and released. It was the second time he had been shot: Three years ago, he was hit during a barricade situation. His vest saved him then, too, Ramsey said. Police did not release the officer's name Wednesday.

Maryann Doto, who lives in Morrisville, Bucks County, heard the news about Guisherd from her surviving daughter.

Over the last 10 months, she has tried to keep her grief to herself, trying to focus on the tasks at hand, and on Megan Doto's surviving children, whom she is now raising.

On Wednesday, she broke down in tears.

Ten long months. She had wondered how Guisherd had lived with himself. She had wondered whether, after so long, anyone who saw the fugitive would recognize him.

Doto had worried that her daughter had been forgotten.

"I feel that my daughter can rest now," she said.

Homicide detectives identified Guisherd as the suspect through eyewitness accounts, sources said, and quickly pieced together a motive:

A month before the shooting, Guisherd's brother had been killed in a drug dispute near Doto's home on the 1500 block of Adams Avenue, and Guisherd was out for revenge, they said. He began hunting for his brother's killers.

On Sept. 14, Guisherd spotted a white car going down Adams that he thought had something to do with his brother's killing and fired 11 shots. One found Megan Doto.

For Maryann Doto, the last year was something that was never supposed to be.

She identified her daughter at the morgue. She held her lifeless granddaughter in her arms as she faded. She told her daughter's children, Angelina, 7, and Anthony, 5, that their mother died in an accident.

"It's not supposed to be like that," she said.

Angelina and Anthony release balloons into the sky with messages for their mother on birthdays and holidays.

Doto misses her daughter - her contagious laugh, her love for dance, the way she still talked like a child sometimes. She called her mother "Mommy," even at 25.

And she thinks of all that her daughter is missing: her older sister's wedding this fall, a celebration they had long dreamed of.

"I just keep on thinking that God is protecting her now," she said.

Doto says she would have liked to look Guisherd in the eye, to ask: "What gives you the right to take two lives?" To let him know what she has gone through in the months that he eluded capture.

But now, she says, that's in God's hands, too.

awhelan@philly.com 215-854-2961 @aubreyjwhelan