‘It feels like a piece of my heart has been broken:’ Family and friends remember mother shot, killed outside Birmingham restaurant

Hundreds gather to remember shooting victim
Published: Sep. 12, 2023 at 1:49 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Hundreds gathered Monday afternoon to remember a woman who killed in another senseless Birmingham shooting.

It’s been a week since that shooting killed two mothers and injured three other people. It happened outside of Aria Restaurant and Lounge before some people got transferred to UAB Hospital.

The vigil honored one of those mothers, 33-year-old ChaVeda Willis. Her friends and family lovingly call her Woodie. Hundreds of people arrived to show their love and there’s no question she was absolutely adored by her community.

A sea of green covered the blue skies Monday afternoon. People decked out in green and brought dozens of green balloons. Though Willis’ sister, Trelena Smith, said her favorite color is yellow, she preferred everybody to see her in lime green.

Those colorful preferences give insight into the bright and colorful young mother. Her daughter Zoey Willis said she was the best mom and she was so fashionable.

“Since they took her away from me, it feels like a piece of my heart has been broken and it can’t be fixed,” said her son, Jermaine Willis. “Like, no one can replace that.”

“I’m just very heartbroken and I’m going to miss her,” said her aunt Kimblyn Reedy. “I’m talking about deeply miss her. I am so torn up behind this, I just don’t know.”

“She was a jewel,” shared Martrece Bell, another aunt of Willis. “Like, she was a jewel to us so for us to lose one of our jewels, it is really hard. She was loving, she was kind, she was compassionate. She was an encourager. She loved loved loved people and people loved loved loved her.”

“And we’re just praying that whoever did this, that God deal with them quickly and they come forward and pay for what they did because they took somebody from us, took something from us that they cannot ever give back,” said Wanda Peoples, another aunt.

Police say this was a targeted attack and Willis was just an innocent bystander.

The investigation is still very active. If you have any information, you’re encouraged to call BPD. You can also reach out to Crimestoppers to remain anonymous and possibly be eligible for a reward.

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