(WMC-TV) - She was a good Samaritan, who thought she was helping a woman and her infant child. Helping until that woman shot her, stole her car, and left her for dead. She would have died had another good Samaritan not jumped in.
Three worlds are colliding in this story of heroism and forgiveness as the woman who fired the gun breaks her silence.
"Like any typical day, I was coming home from work. I noticed a young woman with a baby," said Heather Fox. "I said, 'Are you OK?' My heart went out to her. I said, 'Let's go.' I said 'I need to know where we're going.' And she said in a really stern, harsh tone, 'I said just keep driving.' She had a .40 caliber gun and she was pointing it at me. The panic was really starting to set in. I wanted the situation to be over. I opened the door and my instinct told me to bend over. And that's when she fired. And I began to run and collapsed on the ground."
She continued, "I looked up at the sky and I thought I'm 36 years old and I'm going to die on the streets of Memphis."
Ashley Sanders, a complete stranger, was 18 years old when she stopped Heather's bleeding and saved her life.
"She just kept telling me, 'I don't want to die. I don't want to die.' I said, 'You are not going to die. I am going to stay right here with you.' She said, 'My name is Heather Fox. Don't forget my name, it's Heather Fox."
Who could forget her name - or her story?
A good Samaritan shot by a woman she was trying to help, and another good Samaritan came to her rescue.
That was six years ago.
Now, in her first interview, the woman who brought these two together that fateful day shares her side of the story.
"I didn't want none of this to happen," cried Shani Butler, who is serving a 22 year prison sentence in Florida. "Day after day, just knowing that I almost took somebody's life."
By phone, Butler said she was in an abusive relationship and was suicidal the day Heather Fox offered to give her a ride, outside the Walgreens at Poplar Avenue and Reece Street.
"I was intending to take my life, that was the only reason I had the gun," she said. "She asked me if I needed a ride and I first thought about it because I knew how my boyfriend was and I knew what he wanted."
Butler said her boyfriend had ordered her to rob someone that day and to bring him the money.
"She drives off and we're talking and as we're talking is when I pull the gun out," Butler continued. "When she jumps out, it scares me and so I jump back and pull back on the trigger and I hit her and I didn't know what to do there so I took off in her car."
She added, "Even though it was six years ago, it's still fresh as day. It still hurts."
Two years after the incident, Heather Fox wrote to Butler in prison and offered her forgiveness.
"It took me a while to forgive Shani but it's something I've done and I wanted her to know that," said Fox.
They have been pen pals ever since.
"Because of her forgiveness, it's helping me to heal," said Butler. "She sent me a Bible. She sent me books on encouragement and spiritual warfare, different things to help me."
Helping is just part of who Heather is.
She helped Ashley Sanders go to pharmacy school and helps others by sharing their story.
"Telling my story and explaining how you can make a positive impact out of a negative situation," explained Fox. "I feel like it's very powerful."
"When they hear our story, they think about where they live, the choices they make in life, the people who are in their environment. The environment that they're from," added Sanders.
The two women are unlikely allies, turning one woman's bad decision into something good.
"Be careful of the choice you make. Every choice has a consequence," Butler said.
Shani Butler was baptized in prison and says her faith is stronger than ever.
She has three children, who are all being raised by grandparents now.
Butler is eligible for release in 2026.
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