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Bullets hit home, kill woman in wheelchair

WARREN — An evangelist in the community was killed Sunday when a bullet struck her in the back while she visited with family members at a Starlite Drive NW home to plan her son’s funeral.

Ruth “Mama” Lewis, 89, was sitting in her wheelchair in the living room of 3178 Starlite when she was hit.

“We don’t know why she is dead today; we don’t have those answers,” said her daughter, Andrea Daniels Talbott.

It appears the family matriarch was shot through the window when someone fired at the house, said family members who gathered to mourn her death Monday at her Brier Street SW home.

It is unclear why shots were fired at the house, family said. Police have not released details.

Several 911 calls were placed around 7:30 p.m. Sunday. Witnesses heard several shots, five to 10. One caller said a silver vehicle and a white sports-utility vehicle were driving erratically toward Southern Boulevard when she heard the shots.

A call placed from inside the home was frantic, as the callers cried out, asking for help for Lewis, who was unconscious and did not appear to be breathing.

“Oh god, oh god,” her granddaughter cried out.

Lewis was in a wheelchair following a stroke and car crash in 2001, but still lit up a room, enjoyed life and had more to give, her family said.

“She was full of life, my mom was full of life,” said Patricia Lewis Mallory. “She managed to smile through all of that hurt. She was in a wheelchair, she couldn’t walk, she couldn’t talk. But she still managed to show that beautiful smile.”

A mother of eight, her grandkids, great-grandkids and great-great-grandkids number in the range of 150, her daughters said. With the birth of her great-great-grandson 11 years ago, Ruth Lewis was the matriarch of five generations and known to “all” as “Mama,” family members said.

Active in the church as an evangelist and in politics, Ruth was also an entrepreneur.

She and late husband Robert Lewis founded R&R BBQ and she had the beauty shop Magic Mirror on Niles Road. She worked at Packard Electric for 15 years and worked in construction.

“She was a strong, strong woman,” Lewis Mallory said. “She taught us to be strong.”

rfox@tribtoday.com

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