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Woman Left Paralyzed After Estranged Husband Shot Her Dies Eight Years Later
Alisha Waters, who became a domestic violence advocate, was shot by her estranged husband in 2013 before he turned the gun on himself.
A Kentucky woman who survived a domestic-related shooting in 2013 has died as a result of her injuries.
Alisha Waters, 39, was left paralyzed when her estranged husband shot her five times, according to The Cincinnati Enquirer. That didn't stop Waters from becoming a powerful advocate demanding stronger domestic violence laws in Kentucky.
Following respiratory and cardiac problems resulting from her condition, Waters died on Feb. 17 at the University of Kentucky Medical Center.
“She was the strongest person I ever met in my life,” said retired Fort Thomas Police Lt. Rich Whitford. “She was an absolute angel. She wouldn’t let herself be a victim.”
On the morning of Aug. 6, 2013, Waters’ estranged husband, DJ Mathis, ambushed her on her way to work, according to the Enquirer. Mathis chased her in the parking lot and into her Fort Thomas office before shooting her as she tried to flee in an elevator. One bullet entered her neck and became lodged in her torso. Three more entered her abdomen, and a fifth became lodged in her thigh.
Police entered the office building and found Mathis dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Officers soon heard elevator doors trying to close, finding Waters’ body partially inside the elevator.
Waters played dead, surprising authorities when she asked if Mathis was killed.
“Oh my God,” Whitford recalled. “I just never would've guessed she was alive.”
According to Fox 19 Now, Mathis called Waters’ family days before the attempted murder, posing as a police dispatcher to obtain Waters’ address.
Waters went into great detail about how she felt betrayed by the system when a judge denied granting her a domestic violence order a couple of months before her estranged husband shot her. She claimed Mathis lived with mental illness and had been off his medication.
“I’m here, yes, I’m alive, but what about the gunman? He should be here enjoying life, still with his family and friends,” Waters wrote last August. “Mental illness is a huge problem in our society, and it just seems like it’s swept under the rug. Why, these people deserve attention, education, and counseling, just like any other sick person. Maybe I wouldn’t be stuck in this chair. Maybe he’d be here today, had more people, other than his family, took the time to pay attention to the signs and red flags.”
Waters claimed Mathis made more than 186 calls during a three-week period, leaving “demeaning” and “threatening” messages.
It was this very stalking that Waters addressed when she sought to change state laws, according to the Enquirer. As Waters healed from her injuries, she and her uncle advocated having a bill passed in 2014, which would make stalking part of Kentucky’s domestic violence law. The bill, introduced by then-state Rep. Thomas Kerr, did not pass.
Members of the community, including Kerr, expressed their sadness over Waters’ death, describing how she was an inspiration to many.
“I remember visiting her. Obviously, it was a very tragic situation that would break anyone’s heart,” said Kerr. “Her story was inspirational. She just had a really positive attitude.”
Waters spent the next eight years living with her parents in Florence, Kentucky, before succumbing to her injuries last week.
“I love her,” an emotional Whitford told the Enquirer. “When I would have bad days, I’d say, ‘What would Alisha do?’”
One of Waters’ Facebook posts seemed to sum up the positive attitude she kept in the years following her horrific ordeal.
“Not everything you lose is a loss,” she posted last January. “Some things that didn’t work out for you really worked out for you.”
Waters leaves behind her parents and six siblings.