Man shot through window, killed

Wednesday, February 2, 2011
Three shots were fired through this door Saturday night, killing Ronald Shelton, 58.

A Lewisburg man was shot to death Saturday night when three bullets broke through his front door window, hitting him in the chest, according to police who continue to investigate.

Dead at the scene was Ronald Shelton, 58, of 112-C 7th Ave. S., a small, stone apartment complex that's known as the old Fox Motel. It fronts West Commerce Street. Robbery and burglary probably aren't motives in this case, police said.

That qualified conclusion by Lewisburg Police Detective Sgt. David Henley discounts another theory based on information from Shelton's distraught sister, Betty Shelton of Petersburg. Monday, she described her last phone call with her brother on Saturday morning.

"He called to tell me, 'I want you to make me some real chicken salad,'" Betty Shelton said, explaining her brother didn't like "that store-bought stuff."

"He said, 'I'll pay you for it.' He just got his income tax refund."

Another relative spoke of Betty Shelton's phone call with her brother and, like her aunt, the victim's niece relayed the story about Ronald Shelton receiving money recently.

"It just came up in conversation," Danielle Davis Dawson said Monday of a call with her aunt, Betty Shelton. "She was wondering if he'd received his refund...

"I saw him that morning," Dawson said. "He was with my son," Dominic Murphy, 26, of Lewisburg.

Dawson ate Thanksgiving dinner with her uncle at Betty Shelton's home near where the Shelton children grew up, Dawson and the shooting victim's brother, Dwight Shelton, 55, of Fayetteville, said in another telephone interview Monday.

They grew up on the Leonard Wilson Farm at Liberty Valley Road, and before that at Cleo Edwards' on Old Columbia Highway, Dwight Shelton said.

"We don't have the slightest idea" why Ronald Shelton was shot, the younger brother said. "We didn't know he was around mean people who would do something like that."

Danielle Dawson lives in the vicinity of the old Fox Motel and said that at times like Christmas, she would "deliver a plate of food," she said.

Her uncle Dwight said that he and his sister believe their slain brother lived in the old motel apartment for "6-7 years. That's what we can remember."

Yellow police tape and an investigator's sign were on the front door of Apartment C on Monday.

Police say it would appear that the shooter went to the door, knocked, or called for the victim to come to the door and then fired through the window.

Another bullet was fired on the Monday night of Jan. 17 through the window of a ground-floor apartment where it grazed the neck of another shooting victim. The Cedar Hills apartment resident was treated by the ambulance crew summoned to the complex near Marshall County High School.

Henley acknowledges the similarity of the shootings through windows, but apparently had no other connection, or was reluctant to make public any other connection.

Police are still investigating that shooting and in both cases they request help from the public by asking people with information to call Crime Stoppers at 359-4867 where callers' identities will remain confidential, or to city detectives at 359-3800.

"Shelton was struck three times in the upper chest by a pistol-caliber bullet," according to a second press release issued by the department led by Chief Chuck Forbis. "Shelton was alone inside his residence when he was struck by the bullets which appear to have been fired from outside his residence through an exterior window.

"An autopsy was conducted at the Medical Examiner's Office in Nashville and the examination confirmed that Shelton died as a result of the wounds."

Police responded to the old Fox Motel at 10:58 p.m. Saturday, according to the report by Officer Jennifer McDonald. McDonald and Officer Amanda Newcomb were told by a neighbor she had seen Shelton's door had shattered glass, and "she was concerned because she had heard gun shots about 30 minutes prior."

Cpl. Jackie Robertson was called to the scene and he entered Shelton's apartment first, followed by Newcomb and McDonald. Robertson observed Shelton lying on the floor "between the foot of his bed and a couch," according to McDonald's report, which states that the door was unlocked.

"Detectives are continuing to investigate and have not yet determined the motive for the shooting, although robbery appears to be unlikely," the department said. McDonald's report states that all four detectives -- Henley, James Johnson, Scott Braden, and Santiago Mcklean -- arrived at the scene to investigate.

Shelton worked at Trison Coatings Inc. on Garrett Parkway in Lewisburg's Industrial Park where the owner, Mike Robertson, said he was surprised and saddened when he was told of his employee's death by a text message from another employee on Monday morning.

"He was a great employee," Robertson said. "He kept to himself, not that he was antisocial. He was a quiet employee. There was no reason to think of replacing him with anybody else."

Dawson said her uncle previously worked for the Tennessee Department of Transportation's garage on the Fayetteville Highway.

"I think he probably knew who shot him, or they knew him," the niece said.

Gallatin Funeral Home in Fayetteville was seen by Shelton's family as the mortuary likely to be in charge of arrangements.

Shelton was "very kind... nice, always joking around and playing," his niece, Brittney Hayes, 21, said at her aunt Betty's home. "All his nieces loved him to death. He never met a stranger. He always talked to people."

Betty Shelton said, "We're having a hard time dealing with it. I'm having a hard time because I was close to my brother. He was so happy and he always made people laugh. We're going to miss that."