JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The family of a Jacksonville woman charged with attempted murder following the shooting of her ex-boyfriend says she was not trying to kill him.
“She said, ‘I didn’t know I hit him. I didn’t know I hit him.’ She said, ‘I just wanted to make sure he left me alone and went away,’” Erika Stephens, the woman’s sister, told News4JAX.
Tyiece Heyward, 31, on Wednesday remained in the Duval County jail on a $1 million bond after police said she shot her ex-boyfriend in the stomach. It happened outside Heyward’s home on Amazon Avenue.
Family members said Heyward was wrong to shoot her ex-boyfriend here in the front yard, but they also say charging her with attempted murder was extreme — considering the circumstances leading up to the shooting.
News4JAX is not identifying her ex-boyfriend because he has not been charged with a crime and is considered a victim in this case.
According to Jacksonville police, Heyward’s ex-boyfriend showed up at her home to pick up clothing that was still left in the house. Police said the two got into an argument that turned violent when Heyward fired two shots at her ex, striking him once in the stomach. The wounded boyfriend drove to a nearby parking lot on Edgewood Avenue, where he called 911 for help. He was taken to UF Health where he underwent life-saving surgery.
Police said they looked at footage from Heyward’s security camera and arrested her after they say the footage showed her ex-boyfriend moving toward his car when Heyward shot at him.
Stephens, her sister, was not there when it happened, but said she has been in contact with Heyward.
“She said he threw the flower pot at her and he missed. He didn’t hit her. Instead, he ended up hitting the windshield of her car and ended up cracking the windshield. She said that’s when she fired a shot at him and she said she didn’t know if she hit him. But she said she ran back into the house and locked the door,” Stephens told News4JAX.
Stephens said there is documented history of domestic violence both during and after the couple broke up. She shared documents with News4JAX that she said her sister gave permission to show to prove that she had been stalked, harassed and subjected to violence.
“He would believe that she talks to somebody or she has another boyfriend, so he would come and vandalize her house. Like in the back of the house, it’s all boarded up right now,” Stephens said.
Court records show Heyward filed a domestic violence injunction against her ex-boyfriend back in May of last year after reporting to police that she had been assaulted. The injunction was temporarily granted, but eventually dismissed when neither she nor her ex-boyfriend showed up in court.
News4JAX could not find criminal charges filed against her ex in relation to those complaints. But on the night before the shooting, Stephens says security cameras at the front of the house recorded a man she believes to be her sister’s ex-boyfriend in the front yard. An image from the video shows a man leaning next to her sister’s car.
The following morning, her sister discovered her tires were slashed and called the police. It’s unclear if police are still investigating that incident.
Stephens said her sister’s ex-boyfriend is out of the hospital and has been in contact with her family.
“My mom told him to go away. My mom said, ‘I don’t need him showing up at my house. He needs to go away,’” Stephens said.
Stephens showed us text messages that she said were sent to her by her sister’s ex-boyfriend. One in particular reads: “Whenever you get a chance, give me a call. Your sister got my mind all f***** up. When you talk to her, ask her why she had to do me this way. Why did she have to shoot me?” The message went on to say that he misses her sister.
News4JAX reached out to Heyward’s ex-boyfriend to hear his version of what happened, but he declined our request for an interview. Our invitation to tell his side of the story remains open.
Defense attorney weighs in
Attorney Randy Reep is not affiliated with the case, and said he can understand why police charged Heyward with attempted murder, but he said he also understands why she felt she may have needed to shoot at him.
“You throw a flower pot at me and it could result in great bodily harm or death. Am I allowed to defend myself against that?” Reep said. “I think the answer to that is yes, but we have to see that. You have to prove that and that’s a struggle.”
“You have to have an actual fear of imminent death or great bodily harm and that fear has to be reasonable,” Reep added. “So there’s a gray area she could articulate. But, it’s the police report that gives me concern about that because it indicates there’s a video that shows him walking away from the scene when the gun is fired. I don’t know if that is true. I have not seen the video. But if that is the case, then it becomes difficult to show that fear was reasonable.”
Reep said these situations can be avoided by calling the police if an ex shows up at your door uninvited — meaning, you don’t have to answer the door. He also says if you have to retrieve personal items from the home of an ex and you know there have been previous altercations, it’s better to call the police and make arrangements for an officer to be on site to monitor everything and make sure the visit doesn’t turn violent.