VICTORVILLE, Calif. - Family members and neighbors are demanding answers after an elderly woman who reported a possible intruder in her home was shot and killed by deputies over the weekend.
The San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department responded to a call of a possible home intruder in the Spring Valley Lake community of Victorville at about 9 a.m. on Saturday. When deputies arrived, the door was opened by 91-year-old Betty Francois, who lived alone in the house with her dogs and a cat.
Deputies say Francois was holding a shotgun, which they asked her to drop.
Betty Francois (FOX 11)
When she did not, and deputies felt "in fear of their lives" and shot her. Neighbors say she never fired her gun, but deputies fired several times. Francois was pronounced dead at the hospital
Her family and neighbors are as confused as they are angry. Francois was legally blind and wore a hearing aid. One of her cousins told FOX 11 over the phone that she was almost deaf.
It is unlikely the deputies would have known that, although they are not commenting at this point.
"Couldn’t they have backed off, have someone go behind her or call the house and wait? Considering this was a tiny lady who may have been confused, and thinking that there were actually intruders outside her home," says Susan DeLemus, who is related to Francois by marriage.
DeLemus is adamant that she is not a family spokesperson, but did speak to us about the woman who "probably would have been blown backwards if she even pulled a trigger."
Francois had lived at the home for many years. Before going blind she was an artist who produced paintings with layers of paper. Her work was exhibited a few years back, and you can see samples in our story. She loved her family and her pets.
Neighbors who sometimes helped her with chores say she told them that when she was in her early 20s, she actually got herself a Harley Davidson motorcycle, which her own mother did not approve of.
DeLemus confirmed the story, adding that if she remembers it correctly, Francois’ mother ran the motorcycle over with the family vehicle.
"She was wonderful, and had managed to take care of herself all these years" adds DeLemus,
San Bernardino County Sheriff Department’s released a statement saying they found no intruder in her home but would not tell us what kind of weapon she was holding, if it was loaded, or how many shots were fired by the deputies. We have requested a copy of the call that drew officers to the house.