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Francine Perez

When I was 25, I was shot in my spinal cord. The moment the bullet hit, I instantly went numb from my chest down. I am now a paraplegic.

I was sitting in my car, and my cousin wanted me to fight his girlfriend. I would not do it since she was pregnant. My cousin got out of the car and started shooting at his girlfriend. I didn’t know he had a gun on him. Her brother saw what was happening and started to shoot back in the direction of my cousin. He didn’t want to shoot his sister, so he shot in the opposite direction, which was where my car was.

My car was hit nine times. One bullet almost hit my head—came within an inch. My cousin drove me to the police station, where I died in my car. When I awoke, I don’t know how much later, the trustees were standing around me, viewing my body. They immediately put me in the ambulance, and at the hospital, the bullet was removed. Thanks to one of the top spinal surgeons in the U.S., I was in rehab for 34 days instead of to 2 to 3. Survival.

Reacting shows support for gun violence survivors.