Texas nurse shot to death on New Year’s Eve, likely by celebratory gunfire, police say

U.S. & World

The 61-year-old woman was setting off fireworks with her family when she called out that she had been shot. When authorities arrived, she was pronounced dead at the scene.

Philippa Ashford

Philippa Ashford

A Texas nurse was killed on New Year’s Eve by what police believe was celebratory gunfire.

Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez wrote in a statement that the 61-year-old woman was celebrating New Year’s by setting off fireworks with her family in Laurel Oaks, outside Houston, when she called out that she had been shot. When authorities arrived, she was pronounced dead at the scene.

She suffered a gunshot wound to her neck, NBC affiliate KPRC in Houston reported, citing officials.

Investigators believe the woman “may have been struck by celebratory gunfire from outside the immediate neighborhood,” Gonzalez said.

The Menninger Clinic, an addiction treatment center in Houston, identified the woman as nurse manager Philippa “Phil” Ashford.

“Menninger will hold a memorial service to honor Philippa, whose loss as a talented professional and friend will be felt by all of us here at Menninger and across our local mental health community,” Armando Colombo, the president and CEO of The Menninger Clinic said in a statement.

Menninger is providing grief counselors for those impacted by Ashford’s death.

Ashford worked for more than 12 years as a nurse manager for the clinic’s program for adults who need mental health treatment and substance use detoxification. “Her expertise included motivational interviewing, mentalization-based therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy and community integration,” according to the clinic.

She also trained and mentored student nurses and nurse residents and worked as an adjunct professor at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. There, she was a member of the Sigma Theta Tau Nursing Honor Society and Zeta Phi Beta, a historically black sorority.

Ashford received the Texas Nurses Association District 9 Top 25 Outstanding Nurses Award in 2015.

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