Sarah Lewis, a 34-year-old pregnant mother of three, was shot and killed by her husband, 31-year-old Keith Lewis, before he turned the gun on himself. Lewis was a combat medic for the Special Operations Command. The crime took place in Fayetteville, NC.
Keith Lewis was pronounced dead at the scene when police officers arrived on the scene, just after 7 p.m. on Sunday evening. His pregnant wife was rushed to a local hospital with three gunshot wounds where she, and her unborn baby, later died.
The couple’s three-year-old daughter was present during the shooting but was not injured. She is in the care of other family members.
Lewis had been assigned to the 98th Civil Affairs Battalion, 95th Civil Affairs Brigade. The battalion is part of the 1st Special Forces Command. He had enlisted in the U.S. Army in 2007, and attended infantry one-station unit training (OSUT), at Fort Benning, Georgia, followed by Airborne School at that same base.
He had deployed to Afghanistan with the 4th Brigade, 25th Infantry Division between 2009 and 2010. He had then volunteered to be retrained as a medic in 2012 before being re-stationed at Fort Bragg.
“We are profoundly saddened at the tragic passing of Staff Sgt. and Mrs. Lewis. Our soldiers and families are the bedrock of our unit and any loss deeply affects our formations,” Lt. Col. Mark Finnegan, 98th Civil Affairs battalion commander stated. “We are working to provide the utmost support to the family and our team.”
These tragic events come on the heels of the killing of one former Special Forces operator, William Lavigne, and a veteran, Timothy Dumas, at Fort Bragg. Their deaths are still under investigation by the Army’s Criminal Investigative Division. The two cases are unrelated.
Sarah Lewis had been in the military herself until the birth of her first child. She had been married previously and had two children from that marriage. Her unborn child, killed in the murder-suicide, was to be her fourth. It was due to be born on Christmas. Mrs. Lewis was employed as a paramedic with Harnett County Emergency Services.
The Fayetteville Observer reported that Fayetteville police had also been called to the home for a disturbance in 2016, but no charges had been filed.
“Sarah had an infectious smile and was a light everywhere she went,” the Harnett County Emergency Services Facebook page said in a post on Monday.
WRAL Channel 5 in Raleigh, NC interviewed family members who said that it was well-known that Lewis suffered from PTSD.
“This guy had PTSD. This happened two-and-a-half years ago — the exact same scenario,” said Tammy De Mirza, Sarah Lewis’s aunt. “From what I understand, he drank, and when he drank, he lost it.”
During the incident a few years ago, local police were able to talk Lewis out of hurting himself and others. He was put on medication to help him with his PTSD. But when he consumed alcohol, it would make his symptoms worse and he’d turn violent.
De Mirza added, however, that she harbors no ill will toward Lewis and his illness.
“He was obviously very troubled, and there is nothing in my heart but forgiveness,” she said in the interview.
“I would say the military is letting soldiers down,” she added, stating that the Ft. Bragg Family Advocacy Program and the country needs to provide more assistance to soldiers suffering from PTSD.