TAMPA — One April evening, Evelyn Chambers came home to discover her kids had let her estranged husband inside. Then at 3 a.m., deputies say, Lenton Chambers Jr. awoke his wife while armed with a handgun.
Evelyn Chambers asked her husband if he was going to shoot her.
"Why would I shoot you?" he said, according to an account the wife later gave deputies. She said he told her he was just trying to scare her.
It was one of a series of incidents in which Lenton Chambers menaced his wife, deputies say, as she tried to get away from him.
On Friday, the husband returned to the house on Sugarcreek Drive in Orient Park. This time, deputies say, he did shoot his wife, aiming at her through a rear window as she watched television.
Evelyn Chambers, a 35-year-old mother of two teenagers, was shot in the chest and died at the scene.
Lenton Chambers, also 35, was arrested Wednesday on charges of first-degree murder, shooting into an occupied dwelling and illegal possession of a firearm, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office. As a convicted felon, he cannot legally posses a gun.
Their tumultuous relationship was marked by his arrests on allegations of domestic violence and efforts by Evelyn Chambers to divorce her estranged husband and seek protection from him. At the time of her death, deputies were trying to locate Lenton Chambers to serve him with a restraining order she had obtained on Aug. 27, records show.
A search warrant obtained by detectives details the case against him:
A witness, Samuel Archie, said he and Evelyn Chambers were in a back bedroom of the house watching television shortly before noon Friday when he heard what he thought were fireworks, according to the warrant.
Archie said Evelyn Chambers indicated she’d been hit, grabbed her chest and fell to the floor. He fled the house and called 911.
Deputies arrived and found five apparent gunshots in the master bedroom window and shoe prints leading away from the back of the house to a wall in the back yard, the warrant said.
The husband had been arrested at least twice before after altercations with his wife, according to records.
The Sheriff’s Office said the husband took his wife’s phone during a "non-violent dispute" on Jan. 7. Then on March 4, Lenton Chambers was arrested after an altercation with his wife, but the Hillsborough County State Attorney’s Office later dropped the charge because it could not disprove the husband’s claim of self-defense.
Then came the April 27 incident. The Sheriff’s Office said he left the home with her phone, then returned later that day looking for another man in the house. Evelyn Chambers attempted to retrieve her phone from him, records say, when the husbanded ended up kicking her twice in the head.
The next day Lenton Chambers was arrested on a charge of aggravated assault. Prosecutors added an additional charge of battery during an improper exhibition of a weapon. The case was scheduled for a jury trial on Oct. 1.
It was Aug. 27 when a judge issued an domestic violence injunction against Lenton Chambers, barring him from contacting his wife. A deputy was assigned to serve the husband with the injunction. The first attempt failed Aug. 29 because the deputy couldn’t find him, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
That same day, Evelyn Chambers called 911 and said she believed her husband tried to disable her car and was following her. She told a deputy that Lenton Chambers was angry she had obtained the protective order.
A second attempt to serve the husband failed on Sept. 4
Three days later, Evelyn Chambers was shot and killed in her home.
Lenton Chambers is being held without bail in the Hillsborough County jail.
Contact Tony Marrero at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3374. Follow @tmarrerotimes.