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Wife says shot Aussie husband a hero

AAP logoAAP 24/09/2016 Peter Mitchell

Kevin Reid and his wife Kari Graham-Rei on their wedding day. © AAP Image/Facebook Kevin Reid and his wife Kari Graham-Rei on their wedding day. Australian art gallery owner Kevin Reid has been praised as a hero by his wife after he moved her out of danger moments before masked robbers fatally shot him dead on a US street.

A heartbroken Kari Graham-Reid has told how she was on an after dinner stroll with her "wonderful" husband along a Savannah, Georgia residential street near their home on Wednesday night.

Three men suddenly appeared from the shadows.

"He moved me out of the way and more than likely saved my life," Ms Graham-Reid wrote on Facebook.

"He was a hero in so many ways and my heart is broken."

Mr Reid's death has shocked Savannah, where the Canberra-born 54-year-old quickly became a beloved member of the close-knit community after opening The Australian Aboriginal Art Gallery in April.

Local police described one of the suspects as a black male wearing a light coloured bandanna over his face.

The other two suspects were described as black males.

"There hasn't been an arrest in the case yet," Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department spokesperson Darnisha Green said.

Ms Green declined to say if Mr Reid was shot after refusing to hand over money to the robbers.

His friends said the easygoing Australian likely would not have tried to fight off the men.

"If I had to guess, when he was approached Kevin would have said, 'Oh come on. I'll give you some cash. Let's go and get a beer'," a friend Marcia Banes, of Old Savannah Tours, told AAP.

Mr Reid developed a great love of Aboriginal art after living in Alice Springs for 25 years.

His Savannah gallery specialised in contemporary central and western desert art and jewellery created using paintings by the Warlukurlangu artists of the Northern Territory.

Kevin Reid was shot dead by masked robbers while taking an after dinner stroll with his wife. © AAP Image/Facebook Kevin Reid was shot dead by masked robbers while taking an after dinner stroll with his wife. Mr Reid, who first visited the art friendly community of Savannah in 1992, opened what he believed to be the only Aboriginal art gallery on America's eastern seaboard.

Ms Graham-Reid, an American, said the happiest day of her life was when they married.

"Kevin was the most wonderful man I've ever known, he would give the shirt off his back to help anyone in need," Ms Graham-Reid wrote.

"He was bright, funny and deeply loyal."

Savannah, with its cobblestone streets and rich history as an important site during the American Revolution and US Civil War, is a popular tourist destination.

Australians are Savannah's fifth largest international tourism market.

However, locals are concerned by an uptick in violence and filled message boards on local websites with heartfelt messages for Mr Reid and his family, outrage at crime in the area and debated Georgia's lax gun laws.

One local wrote she was going to buy a gun "ASAP" to protect herself because she lived just two minutes from the shooting.

Christopher Chemsak, who lived in Mr Reid's apartment building, recalled how he sat with him on the front porch a few days ago and the Australian remarked how "life is good".

"Last night I heard a wife scream as her husband was shot point blank by three strangers who jumped out of the shadows, only footsteps away from her front door," Mr Chemsak wrote on the Savannah Morning News website.

"The only sound more horrifying than the crack of the gunfire was his body's last attempts to maintain life."

Ms Banes said there were plans to hold a memorial for Mr Reid and also open up his gallery for the public to buy the artwork to support his family.

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