They accused her of dancing on his grave.
A Florida widow is responding to online backlash after she was featured dancing in a TikTok video describing her husband’s shooting death. The controversial clip has since been deleted amid backlash — but was reposted to Twitter, where it amassed 5 million views and oodles of appalled reactions from viewers.
The widow, named Jessica Ayers, 39, also addressed the controversy in a recent TikTok video, which she posted Wednesday in response to one critical commenter who questioned why she’d dance about something “so traumatic.”
“Because eight years ago my entire life went up in flames” retorted the Panama City native, who is known as the Singing Widow on TikTok. “It [the death] happened to my husband obviously but he’s not here anymore so he lost his life and, in a sense I lost mine.”
“And yeah I’m f–king dancing, because why not? I made you look, right?” added the self-proclaimed “remarried widow warrior,” who sells commemorative T-shirts on her Etsy page, entitled “The Widow and Bereavement Shop.”
The now-viral video star was referencing the death of her husband, Steven Justin Ayers, 33, who was killed by a stray bullet in 2014 after the couple brought their 3-day-old baby from the hospital, the Panama City News Herald reported.
The shooter, Charles Edward Shisler, 62, claimed the gun discharged accidentally while he was picking it up by the trigger. He was subsequently arrested and charged with manslaughter and possession of a firearm by a felon and possession of methamphetamine. Shisler pleaded guilty in 2015.
Since then, Ayers has chronicled her heartrending experience being a widow and single mom on both her TikTok and personal blog, “The Singing Widow.”
However, the Floridian came under fire for the recent clip, which depicted the widow gyrating emphatically to Meghan Trainor’s upbeat track “Made You Look” while sporting a a smile. All the while, captions detailing her husband’s horrific death popped up on the screen.
“Eight years ago, a man shot and killed my husband,” read the caption. “I was 3 days postpartum,” she continued. “[Eleven] months later, the man who shot him was convicted of manslaughter.”
The captions described how on the day of the killer’s sentencing, Ayers told him the story to his face. “I also told him that if he ever started to feel sorry for himself, to remember my face,” wrote Ayers, who boasts nearly 57,000 Instagram followers. “It remains one of the proudest moments of my life.”
The upbeat footage ends with the mother of two saluting the camera, whereupon a message pops up urging her followers to read the full story on Instagram.
Alas, the clip didn’t sit well with much of the commentariat, who felt that the message didn’t match the moves: “I never understood why people dance while talking about such dark and sensitive topics on tiktok,” fumed one aghast viewer on Twitter. “If someone was dancing to the story of my death i would haunt them.”
“And she did the dance to a Meghan Trainor song, the absolute disrespect,” exclaimed another twit wit.
“This is peak TikTok,” lamented one disillusioned viewer of the original dance video. Some even compared the display to the nurses who filmed themselves dancing during the COVID pandemic.
“People are reacting because it’s discordant in the same way hospital personnel dancing during reported COVID surges was,” one viral tweet pointed out. “The behavior [seemed] misaligned with the message and the incongruence reads as disingenuous/insincere,” continued the social media watchdog.
Meanwhile, in Ayers’ followup video, one commenter attempted to explain the criticism: “It’s not that you’re dancing… it’s that you’re dancing WHILE telling that specific story. No one would criticize you just for dancing”
Ayers promptly replied: “So let’s crucify me for it. Wtf? The dance was a trend so I made a TikTok using it to tell my story. Sooo many others do it and people praise them.”
However, others flocked to Ayers defense. “She’s dancing because she’s telling the story of her revenge for the murder — her brave speech got the killer a life sentence,” declared one defender. “I’m really not sure what the problem is here.”
Ayers has since remarried fellow musician Don Hogg, whom she performed with at local venues together — and who, unbeknownst to her, showed up to her husband’s funeral in 2018, nine.com.au reported.
During the ceremony, she reportedly wore the rings from her first wedding on her other hand.