'Petite gal with a big spirit': Fundraiser setup for Belgrade sh - ABC FOX Montana Local News, Weather, Sports KTMF | KWYB

'Petite gal with a big spirit': Fundraiser setup for Belgrade shooting victim

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A Belgrade woman remains in critical condition nearly five days after surviving a gunshot wound to the head. But Ashley Van Hemert’s family is optimistic that her strong spirit and faith will carry her through to recovery.

“She’s a fighter,” says Van Hemert’s sister, Carissa DeVries. “She’s stubborn so we know that she’ll get through this.”

Van Hemert, 32, was the lone survivor of a tragic double shooting Sunday in Belgrade. Court documents state Van Hemert and her roommate Lauren DeWise were both shot in the head at least once.

DeWise and Van Hemert were sharing the house with a third roommate, who found them both early Sunday morning and ran to the neighbors to call for help. Van Hemert was conscious when police arrived, but DeWise died of her injuries.

The man accused of shooting both women is 47-year-old Joseph Paul DeWise, Lauren’s estranged husband. Paul DeWise is charged with deliberate homicide and is being held at the Gallatin Co. Detention Center on an $800,000 bond.

Documents state Lauren DeWise had moved into the house about two months before, escaping ongoing physical abuse from her husband.

Van Hemert, a CNA at Bozeman Health, is originally from South Dakota, but moved to Bozeman nine years ago.

“She has always loved the mountains, she loves the outdoors, she loves hiking, skiing and snowboarding. So I really think the mountains are what drew her out there,” DeVries said.

Van Hemert is the oldest of eight children, and DeVries describes her as a “petite gal with a big personality”.

DeVries says her sister and her dog, Bronson, are inseparable. 

DeVries says Van Hemert is known for her giving spirit and desire to help people, which shines through in her work as a volunteer with Eagle Mount and her mission trip to Ethiopia in 2014.

She still sponsors an Ethiopian child she met on that trip.

“She is one of the most giving people you will ever meet,” DeVries says of her older sister. “[Ashley] has a passion for helping others.”

Now hundreds of people are giving back to Van Hemert; a YouCaring page set up to help with her medical expenses and recovery has raised more than $16,000 so far. A link to that page can be found here.

For DeVries and Van Hemert’s large family, DeVries says their faith is giving them strength.

“Our faith in God is definitely what’s keeping us grounded and giving us hope. And we know that he has the ultimate plan for her life,” DeVries said.

“We pray everyday, every morning and night for her. And without our faith, I don’t know how we would be holding up with this.” In addition to the YouCaring page, a Facebook page ‘Pray for Ashley’ has been setup to keep people up to date on her condition and recovery.

"She's doing as good as she can be, we ask for continued prayers for her to make a full recovery,” DeVries said.

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