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Woman shot by fiancé in Palm City is also battling neck cancer

'She's just really nervous and scared about what's next,' sister Gina Vitella says
Family members said Lisa Dougherty is recovered in a hospital after she was shot by her fiancé in Palm City on Dec. 21, 2023.
Posted at 10:21 PM, Dec 22, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-22 22:51:29-05

PALM CITY, Fla. — A Palm City woman is in the hospital recovering after she was shot by her fiancé Thursday night, according to the Martin County Sheriff's Office.

The family of the victim is identifying the woman as Lisa Dougherty, 65.

"I was looking forward to the holidays to meet him finally, and see my sister and my niece," Gina Vitella, Lisa Dougherty's younger sister, said.

Vitella said their father is in town from Georgia for the holidays and had plans for the family to visit Lisa, but she wasn't responding.

Gina Vitella, the sister of Lisa Dougherty, speaks about the shooting and recovery of her loved one.
Gina Vitella, the sister of Lisa Dougherty, speaks about the shooting and recovery of her loved one.

She found out her sister was in the hospital through a mutual friend.

"And now Lisa told me her phone is, he smashed it and broke it," Vitella said. "That's why she never got my message."

She visited her sister in the hospital Friday evening.

"He threw her to the ground is what she said, and she was running," Vitella said. "The daughter ran first and then she was running, and that's when he came in with the gun or something, got her and then she ran."

The suspected gunman, Shaun Dougherty, 60, is now facing two counts of attempted murder.

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"I'm hoping that the courts will take care of it, and we'll see what happens," Vitella said.

She said the bullets hit her sister in the hip, shoulder and neck area.

Her niece, who is in her late 30s, was also shot once but was released from the hospital Thursday night.

"Did she seem to be in good spirits? Did you see her physically OK? How did she look to you?" WPTV reporter Joel Lopez asked.

"She's just really nervous and scared about what's next, but she feels better that he's in jail," Vitella answered.

The Martin County Sheriff's Office said Shaun Dougherty is a military veteran who was "highly intoxicated" at the time of the shooting — an issue Vitella said triggered her sister to call police on him in the past.

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"Do you know if he was getting any kind of help or treatment for his mental issues?" Lopez asked.

"No, I don't know anything about that," Vitella said. "I figure he'd been sober for a long time, so he was doing better as far as I knew."

She said her sister has been talking to a domestic violence counselor and social worker.

"I really hope we can stress mental health and how mental illness is not prioritized in this state," Vitella said.

"What's your message to people out there to prevent something like this from happening?" Lopez asked.

"To get help, get help definitely," Vitella answered. "I hope she can find somewhere safe to live."

Vitella said her sister has also been fighting neck cancer for the last six months.

"She's still battling, it's spread," Vitella said. "She just found out that it spread, so she's got all those issues going on too."

Vitella said her sister will most likely remain in the hospital through Christmas as she may need to undergo rehab for possible nerve damage in her arm.