A 69-year-old foster grandparent who did volunteer work with blind children was in extremely critical condition Tuesday after being shot point-blank in the eye by teen-age muggers as she waited for a bus, according to police and relatives.
Amalia C. Sison, a volunteer at the Foundation for the Junior Blind in Southwest Los Angeles, was confronted by two teen-agers Monday at a bus stop behind the facility and shot in the left eye with a .38-caliber handgun when she hesitated in giving up her purse, according to a relative.
Police cordoned off the area shortly after the shooting and arrested two youths--one 15 and one 17--who matched witnesses' descriptions of the assailants.
Sison, a retired dentist and the sister of a legendary Filipino guerrilla leader, came to the United States from the Philippines several years ago. For the past six years, she has been getting up at dawn to take buses from her apartment in a central city retirement home to the Foundation for the Junior Blind in Windsor Hills.
"She is just an incredible lady," said Bob Ralls, president of the foundation. "She is a woman who is deeply committed to what our foundation is all about and committed to helping children. . . . She was obviously a person who lived life as a mission to help others.
"Everybody is devastated and upset," Ralls said of the foundation staff and children.
Sison usually worked at the foundation until noon, but Monday she left an hour or so early, walked to the bus stop on 54th Street at the rear of the property and sat down on the bench.
Two teen-agers approached. One sat on either side of Sison and demanded her money, according to her brother, Ramon Sison, who said he had been briefed by police.
"She got up and said. 'Oh, no,' like she was startled.
Ramon Sison doubts that she was resisting the robbery.
"My sister is very educated and intelligent enough to give them what they wanted," he said.
Nevertheless, a shot was fired into Sison's left eye. The youths tried to convince police that the gun went off accidentally, said Ramon Sison, a physician.
"She lost her left eye," he said, "and she might lose her life."
In her native Philippines, Amalia Sison was one of nine children in a middle-class family that owned enough property to be comfortable.
Another sibling also had a devotion to helping the needy. But he took a different route.
Jose Maria Sison, Amalia's younger brother, founded the Philippine Communist Party, fought government troops as a guerrilla and was jailed for his activities.
But the reserved Amalia, a devout Catholic, worked for what she believed in within the church. "That was her life," said brother Ramon. "She didn't have much money, but she had a lot of love to give, so she volunteered her time."
He said his sister dismissed his warnings about traveling alone through tough neighborhoods. "She said, 'If it's a dangerous area, I guess that's why they can't get enough volunteers. Somebody's got to do it.' "