Leslie Baker was someone everyone seemed to know.
As the director of marketing at Texas Health Center for Diagnostics & Surgery in Plano, the 59-year-old Baker spent her days infecting people with her personality, "always smiling and laughing, full of true joy," says longtime friend Steve Soler, the director of media relations for the city of Plano.
Susan Stoler graduated from W.T. High School with Baker in 1979. Whenever they would see each other, even if it had been a couple of years, Baker greeted her as if time hadn't passed at all. They used to joke that there were six degrees of separation from Leslie Baker.
“People were drawn to her,” Stoler says. “Everyone we know somehow knew Leslie.”
On Monday night, Memorial Day, Baker was shot and killed in her own driveway.
Dallas police responded to the shooting at 5 p.m. at 6100 block of Royalton Drive in Preston Hollow. Baker was found in the driver’s seat of her car. Officers performed first aid until the arrival of Dallas Fire-Rescue. Baker was taken to a nearby hospital where she later died from her injuries.
The suspect remains at large.
“I’m stunned and heartbroken,” Susan Stoler says. “I just can’t believe it.”
Steve Stoler points out that crime happens every day. "When it’s someone you know and love, it’s so different," he says. "I can’t believe I’m talking about it."
The Stolers found out about Baker’s death early Tuesday morning when a CBS News reporter for Channel 11 emailed a picture with Leslie and others in it. The reporter said that he assumed Steve Stoler had heard what happened and asked him to confirm which person she was.
“'I can confirm she’s the one on the left,'" Stoler recalls telling the reporter. "'But why? What happened?'"
He was then informed only that she had been "shot and killed in her driveway."
“I wake up and Steve is in the kitchen crying. I’m still in shock,” Susan Stoler says.
Since then they have heard from multiple reporters.
The area community on the neighborhood app NextDoor is full of speculation from neighbors on theories and possible leads that the police may be chasing down. One poster suggests there was an Amazon Prime truck spotted in the area, a possible witness, and there are also rumors of surveillance footage that could have captured the suspect's car.
Neighbors interviewed by WFAA indicated that she was driving home when she was shot. Dallas police are investigating the shooting as a robbery.
“The word I think of is vivacious," Steve Stoler says.
The president of Texas Health Center for Diagnostics & Surgery in Plano sent the following statement to CBS 11 News:
“We’re shocked and heartbroken by Leslie’s senseless death. I personally have known and worked with Leslie for many years, and her tragic passing is very difficult to understand and accept.
“Leslie was part of the Texas Health Resources family for many years and had been in her current role since 2007. She quickly became a trusted, valued member of our family. During her time here, she was a key member of our administrative team, known as an intelligent, fair and compassionate leader who kept the care of patients as her guiding light.
“During this tragic time, we send our heartfelt prayers, condolences and support to her husband and beloved children. We ask that everyone keep Leslie’s family in their thoughts and prayers as they navigate through this tragic time.”
The Baker family has put out a statement asking for privacy as they grieve. Instead of flowers, they also ask that donations be made in Leslie Baker's honor to YMCA Dallas, which was one of her favorite organizations.
The Dallas Police Department’s Homicide unit is asking that anyone with information regarding the crime contact Det. E. Montenegro at 214.671.3624 or via email: [email protected].
*Texas Health Center for Diagnostics & Surgery has advertised with Local Profile.