NEW ORLEANS -- The generosity and support has been overwhelming for Deb Cotton – one of the 19 people injured in the Mother’s Day mass shooting -- from stacks of get- well cards to emails to donations and fundraisers like the one held Friday at Gasa Gasa on Freret Street.
Cotton, although still recovering, said she will be there Friday evening so she can thank everyone for all their love and support.
“That is where my heart is, and I know that I will be going back,” Cotton said as she sat watching old second line videos smiling and swaying to the music.
You would never know she was among the 19 shot during the Mother's Day shooting spree, but now her life passion comes with terrifying memories of day she will never forget.
“It was a really nice, breezy day and we had just started,” Cotton said.
She said the second line parade had just turned onto Frenchman Street when she got her first glimpse of the gunman.
“It all happened so fast. I started screaming and he started shooting,” she said.
She started running and seconds later she says she felt the bullet hit her in the back, tearing through her abdomen. “All I could think about was the excruciating pain blossoming out of my stomach.”
Cotton spent seven and half weeks in the hospital and endured 11 surgeries, and listened as doctors said it was miracle she survived her injuries.
“I lost my kidney, my gall bladder, bile duct,” she said.
She says the road to recovery was tough at times. “I was so miserable that I didn't want to go on.”
But she says there was one thing that kept her going. “The amount of support and love that has been shown to me by my friends, by people in the community, by people I don't even know has been the thing that has pulled me from the depth of depression.”
And surprisingly she says she is not angry at the two shooters who open fired that day.
“I don’t know what happened to make their hearts so hard, without reproach.”
Doctors say she will make a full recovery and live a normal life, and she credits the city she loves for that resilience and strength.
Cotton says she has over $50,000 in medical bills. And although she is home, doctors said it could be a year --- from day of the shooting --- before she makes a full recovery.