Toronto Star

Aug. 22, 01:00 EDT

Dundas man killed outside home

Ex-wife arrested after father of four shot in child-custody fight

John Burman
TORSTAR NEWS SERVICE
Toronto Star

HAMILTON A Dundas father of four was gunned down at his front door yesterday after a bitter argument over child custody ended in gunfire.

Russell Bailey, 42, collapsed on the front steps of his Watson's Lane home after several shots were fired just before noon. The man's wife and four children, who were at home, were not injured.

Ruth-Anne Willis, 39, identified by Hamilton police as the victim's former wife, was arrested by Halton police about an hour later. The Prince Edward Island resident is to appear in a Hamilton courtroom this morning charged with first-degree murder.

The slaying is Hamilton's sixth homicide of the year.

Bailey was pronounced dead at McMaster University Medical Centre, police said.

Superintendent Terry Sullivan said a woman who left the house in a pickup truck moments after the shooting was stopped and arrested by police on Highway 5. A handgun was seized and the vehicle was impounded.

Earlier, neighbours who had called police to report a loud dispute at the house found the man's current wife kneeling on the grass beside him, screaming.

"Wake me up!" she cried. "Wake me up! This has got to be a dream. My husband's dead."

The distraught woman was comforted by friends and neighbours and taken to McMaster by ambulance.

A Halton officer spotted the wanted truck going east on Highway 5 near Appleby Line at 1 p.m. The officer called in backup cruisers and the tactical squad to stop the car and arrest the man and woman in it, said Staff Sergeant Andrew Fletcher. Both were taken into Hamilton police custody.

The man, who was not in the truck when it left the shooting scene, was detained for questioning.

A member of the suspect's family said the woman had been married to the victim and they had two daughters. They separated 10 years ago.

Four young children were in the home when the shooting occurred. It is believed they were in the basement when the shots were fired.

The shooting shocked neighbours of the quiet, tree-lined street nestled at the foot of the Niagara Escarpment.

Julia Donnelley, who lives near the scene, was in her backyard when the shots were fired.

"There were quite a few," she said. "It was repetitive, like one right after another over and over."

Hamilton Spectator

Copyright © 1996-2002. Toronto Star Newspapers Limited.