Early morning struggle for shotgun leaves Ocala woman dead

William Joseph Lewis

An Ocala woman was shot and killed early Wednesday as her husband and his cousin battled each other for control of a shotgun.

William Joseph Lewis, 30, of Ocala, was arrested later in the day after he called Ocala police and agreed to come in for questioning. He told deputies that the weapon went off and shot Autumn Feehley as he wrestled with her husband, Christopher O’Brien, to try to get control of the gun.

According to an Ocala Police Department report, officers were called to the home at 807 SE 33rd Ave. just before 8:30 a.m. Wednesday. When they arrived, they found Feehley just outside her residence with a gunshot wound to her chest. O’Brien was applying pressure to his wife’s wound and Lewis was sitting nearby.

O’Brien told officers that he was holding a shotgun when Lewis jumped on him, causing the weapon to go off. O’Brien said the altercation happened outside.

As more officers arrived, Lewis walked through the residence and fled the scene, the report says, adding that bloody footprints were observed inside the home.

Deputies found a shotgun at the house that was broken into two pieces. They also noted a large pool of blood just outside the front door, as well as an orange weapon that was identified as a flare gun.

During an interview at the police station later Wednesday, O’Brien told officers that he and Feehley were lying in bed when they heard aggressive knocking at the door. O’Brien said he believed Lewis was the one at the door because he had already come to his house twice that week, the report states.

O’Brien told officers that he is afraid of Lewis because he “is aggressive and is known to physically hurt people.” O’Brien added that Lewis was upset with him because he had been helping out his cousin’s ex-girlfriend.

O’Brien said he told Lewis to leave five or six times before opening the door with a shotgun in his hand. He said he did not point the gun at Lewis, but he did tell him to leave again.

O’Brien said that as he took a step out of the doorway, Lewis grabbed him and the gun, causing both of them to fall down the single-step entryway. At that point, O’Brien said both he and Lewis were pulling the shotgun toward themselves.

O’Brien said Lewis’ hand was on the gun when it went off, the report says. O’Brien added that he wasn’t aware Feehley had come outside until he realized she’d been shot.
The report states that O’Brien provided medical aid to his wife while Lewis went to a neighboring homes asking for someone to call for help.

After fleeing the scene during the investigation, Lewis later called 911 and spoke to a sergeant. He agreed to come in for questioning and arrived a short time later, the report says.

During a subsequent interview, Lewis confirmed that he went to O’Brien’s house because he needed a place to stay. He claimed that O’Brien came outside and pointed an orange firearm at him that later was identified as a flare gun. He said as the two wrestled, the gun went off and Feehley was shot.

In the report, an officer points out that while O’Brien did have an orange flare gun in his pocket when he answered the door, it was not the weapon that shot Feehley. In fact, the report adds, the flare gun fell out of O’Brien’s pocket during the tussle and onto the sidewalk in front of the home.

Later Wednesday morning on a video that was posted online, Lewis said he didn’t mean to shoot Feehley as he was being loaded into an Ocala Police vehicle for the trip to the Marion County Jail.

“This was an accident. This was not anything that was done on purpose or maliciously,” he said. “This is my family. This is not supposed to be like this.”

Lewis, who is being held on $30,000 bond, added that he didn’t bring a gun to O’Brien’s house and was surprised when he saw his cousin holding a weapon.

“I didn’t pull a gun on anybody,” he said. “I had a gun pulled on me and I got scared. The first reaction I had was to try to protect myself.”