NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — A community is gathering to mourn the loss of a woman killed at her home in East Nashville.
Police said 53-year-old Letha Hayes was an innocent victim hit by gunfire after individuals inside an SUV started shooting at two men nearby. It happened during the early morning hours on Saturday, May 13, in the 600 block of South 7th Street.
“She didn’t deserve it, she didn’t deserve it,” Rachel Wolentarski said. “Letha was like a mom to everybody out here.”
Hayes was killed on her 53rd birthday, a day before Mother’s Day. Now, dozens of balloons, flowers, and messages of love cover her front porch.
“She [was] just a beautiful woman, she had a beautiful soul,” said Demarcus Wilson with tears in his eyes.
This soul touched many on what’s been deemed “Letha’s block.”
Hayes had been part of the community since 1983, but the block where she lived was also where she died.
Around 1 a.m. Saturday, Metro police said Hayes was struck by gunfire.
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“She just walked out and she got hit in the head,” said Wolentarski who lives just a few doors down.
In a community where flying bullets have become a sad, recurring reality, this tragedy hit a different chord within the Cayce community.
“We gotta put the guns down. Put the guns down man. This generation, we gotta put the guns down,” said Wilson.
Neighbors said they have had enough of the gun violence.
“There’s been many shootouts over here. It’s dangerous man,” Wilson said as he shook his head, pointing out that Hayes was shot just feet from a mobile police camera unit.
“Stop the gun violence. We don’t need the guns, kids can’t even play outside in this neighborhood safely,” said Wolentarski.
The community is crying for change while mourning “the momma of the block.”
“She raised me, that’s my momma and we miss her man. We love that lady,” said Boosie Ru.
A candlelight vigil in Hayes’ honor is being held Monday, May 15, at 6 p.m.
Hayes’ family has also created a GoFundMe to help with funeral services. If you’d like to donate, click here.
Metro police said a man believed to be one of the intended targets of the gunfire later showed up at a hospital with a gunshot wound to his shoulder. However, he was uncooperative with police.
Investigators said they are pursuing leads in the case, they are asking anyone with information to contact Crime Stoppers at 615-742-7463. Callers to Crime Stoppers can remain anonymous and qualify for a cash reward of up to $5,000 in murder cases.