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Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Dozens gather for Birmingham woman killed in vicious dog attack: ‘She was truly loved’

Family and friends of a Birmingham woman killed in a horrific dog attack gathered at her death site Monday to remember her for how she lived rather than how she died.

Sharon Kaye Billups Portis, 63, was found dead on an Ensley roadside on Nov. 9.

Her death has been a hard hit for her large, close-knit family.

“The family is still mourning, we still don’t have answers and I think it’s a very trying, troubling time for everyone,’’ said Portis’ brother, Albert Ford. “It’s just overwhelming, but we’re always thankful and prayerful.”

It was about 6:30 a.m. that Thursday when a passerby by found the body of the 63-year-old Portis near her beloved bicycle on 18th Street in Ensley.

The Jefferson County Coroner’s Office would later determine that Portis was killed in a dog attack, likely the night before as she was leaving work.

Dozens gathered on 18th Street Monday to celebrate her life. They also released balloons in her honor.

“She was truly loved and will be missed in this community. It’s unfortunate that her life was taken so tragically at this site here,’’ Ford said. “We want to remember her for who she was and the impact that she on everyone’s life that is here. “

“We don’t have all the answers that we want, that we need, we don’t know why this untimely death came,’’ he said, “but we know that God has all the answers and we’re going to trust in him.”

Bishop Marvin Henderson Sr. of United Apostolic Church of God led the crowd in prayer.

“In the midst of all of this, God is still God,’’ Henderson said. “The fact that all of you are gathered here lets us know how much she was loved, how much she was appreciated and how much she will be missed.”

Portis was one of nine siblings in the Billups family.

“She was the life of the party. A beautiful spirit. Very lively. Very funny,’’ her sister, LaSharn Faush, previously told AL.com. “She got a long with everybody. She was kind and caring.”

Cleaning was a passion of Portis’ and how she made her living.

The family said she was leaving work when they believe she was attacked.

“The coroner was saying he felt she had been out there all night,’’ Faush said. “We’re devastated. We really are.”

Birmingham police said last week they have reached out to the City of Birmingham’s animal control division – which is not part of the police department – and “expressed the urgency” of setting up traps in the area for stray dogs.

“We have stressed that we have to do something immediately to set up traps in that area because of the fear that these dogs might attack again,’’ said Officer Truman Fitzgerald.

“We don’t know who the dogs belong to and if they belong to anyone,’’ he said. “We may be dealing with a pack of stray dogs.”

It wasn’t immediately clear if the dogs have been located.

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