Man hailed as hero after taking bullet for his niece in Gardendale triple homicide

GARDENDALE, Ala. (WIAT) — At the funerals for Don Foshee, Dana Lever, and Bonnie Foshee, a journal entry from the tragedy’s sole survivor brought new light on what happened that day.

The three victims were gunned down at a Gardendale home in the Peachtree Community last Wednesday. Police said Dana Lever’s ex-husband hid in a shed in the backyard, waiting to ambush them. Lever’s 11-year-old daughter was able to escape the gunfire by running to a neighbor’s house. But according to the child, it was her Uncle Don who saved her life.

“He stepped between the shooter and her and took her bullet,” explained Mitchelene Shaddix, Don Foshee’s cousin. “The way I understand this is that Don was shot first.  He was shot in the shoulder, and I understand he fell.”

Don wore a brace on his leg, but Shaddix said that he found the strength to get back up.

“He was able to right himself and get between the shooter and his daughter,” said Shaddix.  “He even said to the shooter, ‘Your fight is not with her. Your fight is between you and me.’ That’s when he took the bullet that took his life but allowed her time to run next door.”

Shaddix explained that the 11-year-old girl wanted her journal entry to be read aloud by the minister at the funeral services. The families had no idea that Foshee had tried to protect the child, but it didn’t surprise them.

“I didn’t know it until it was read from the pulpit,” Shaddix said. “I wanted other people to know. This man was strong until the very end. He was not running, he wasn’t trying, in any way, to do anything except protect the person that needed protecting.”

Shaddix said that the journal entry didn’t exactly give her comfort–so much as it affirmed what she had always believed about Don Foshee.

“He was ready to lay down his life in Vietnam for his country,” she explained.  “He was ready to stand between any person and their enemy.  That’s just the type of person Don was.”

Shaddix said that she had heard Bonnie and Don Foshee talk about altercations with the suspected shooter, Kenneth Lever, in the past.  She described one time when Lever had allegedly damaged Foshee’s car.

“Bonnie was talking about him [Lever] and about her sister and how very afraid her sister was.”

However, no one anticipated that the situation could escalate to this.

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