Shooting death of young mother shatters Rocky Mountain House

Celebration of life scheduled Friday for homicide victim Ashley Ames

Original Article: CBC News  |  Janice Johnston  |  July 30, 2019

A celebration of life will be held Friday in Rocky Mountain House to honour a young mother killed in what police have called a "domestic situation."

Guests will be asked to avoid wearing all black to remember her outgoing and vibrant personality.

Ames, 28, was gunned down on July 26. Her sister, Alexis, was shot at with a .22-calibre rifle but survived, according to court documents.

Three children in the home at the time were not injured.

Alexis Ames, 29, has already been released from hospital. Her long-time partner, Marshall Stone, has been charged with second-degree murder and attempted murder.

Phone calls and messages to friends and family of Ashley Ames were not returned.

A trust fund has been established for her young son.

"He was Ashley's entire world and she would want him taken care of," Jazmin Thomson, who set up the fund, wrote on Facebook. "Ashley was loved by everyone who knew her. She was a pretty incredible person who absolutely adored her baby boy. And she will be missed by many."

Concern has also been expressed for Alexis Ames, a mother of two. She was referred to in a Facebook post as "another victim in this situation along with her babies. She is going to need all the help she can get. Keep them in your thoughts as they're suffering heavy and missing a very close person." 

Stone, 44, has no criminal record. He was denied bail and made his first court appearance July 31 in Rocky Mountain House provincial court.

Stone referred to himself on his Facebook page as self-employed and posted many photos of his hunting and fishing trophies.

'Domestic violence impacts everyone'

The mayor of Rocky Mountain House called Ashley Ames' death "tragic and senseless."

In a statement emailed to CBC News, Tammy Burke noted the homicide has "shocked and saddened" her community. 

"A young mother's life was lost due to a domestic situation," the mayor wrote. "Her injured sister and their whole family are in our thoughts." 

The executive director of the town women's shelter said the homicide has raised awareness about the danger some women face in their own homes. 

"Domestic violence impacts everyone in the community," Cindy Easton said. "I think sometimes in a community, intimate partner violence is really hidden. It's hidden behind closed doors. It's easy for people to say, well, that doesn't really happen in our community." 

Easton said the town of 6,400 people has outgrown its 10-bed facility. On average, the shelter helps up to 160 women and children annually. But last year, it had to turn away more than 550 women and children because it was at capacity.

A new, expanded shelter will open in Rocky Mountain House next month, with 21 emergency beds and five second-stage apartments. 

"The need for safety planning and supporting women dealing with family-based violence is a priority because people are dying," Easton said. 

The rate of domestic homicide in rural and remote regions of Canada is often "significantly higher" than in urban areas, according to a report issued last year as part of a five-year project called the Canadian Domestic Homicide Prevention Initiative.

The report attributes the extra danger to a number of potential contributing factors, including unemployment, precarious employment, the role of firearms and a lack of transportation or privacy. 

The Alberta Council of Women's Shelters reports more than 58,000 crisis calls were made to provincial shelters in 2018, representing a 10 per cent increase over the year before.