A year after her husband was killed outside the Walmart in south Red Deer, Roxine Williams still can’t find the words to describe her pain.
“It has been pretty difficult. I don’t even know how to explain how I feel inside,” said Williams.
On Dec. 20, 2019, C.J. “Jim” Williams was shot and killed in front of the store after the married couple went there to buy deodorant.
“If somebody passes away and you’ve been expecting it, it’s still hard. But when somebody passes away like Jim did and you have no idea it’s going to happen, it hits you in a different way,” Roxine told the Advocate just a couple of days before the anniversary of her husband’s death on Sunday.
Hundreds attended a memorial service for Jim at the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd in Red Deer on Jan. 4.
“He was so caring for people. It was quite interesting how many people have come up to me and said he was such a nice guy and he did so much for people,” Roxine said.
“It just kind of shakes me up when that happens. Some of these people I don’t even know, but they all knew Jim. He used to joke that more people knew our dog than knew us.”
Jim was born March 24, 1950 in Prince Albert, Sask. His family relocated to Medicine Hat when he was eight and at 17, his family moved to Lethbridge, where he finished high school.
He began working as a truck driver at 18. In 1991, he overcame a propane explosion that put him in a coma for three months and burned over 84 per cent of his body. He had to retire from driving trucks after being burned.
At a press conference following his death, Mayor Tara Veer said she went to the same church as Jim.
“This is an unprecedented tragedy in our community,” Veer said during the press conference, adding that Jim was a loving husband, father and proud grandfather.
“He was a deeply kind and compassionate person,” she said.
“He was a man who experienced adversity in his life, but all who knew him know that he prevailed as an overcomer. All who had the privilege of crossing paths with him were better for knowing him.”
A five-day preliminary hearing for the man accused of shooting Jim is set to begin July 12.
Chase Freed is charged with second-degree murder, two counts of attempted murder and several other charges after the incident just five days before Christmas 2018. He is also charged with flight from police, dangerous driving and theft of a motor vehicle.
–With files from The Canadian Press