NEW ORLEANS — There are around 240 people who survived gunshots this year. That's around the same number as this time last year. The injuries can cause dramatic changes to their lives.
For two-and-a-half years now, we have stayed in touch with a family forever changed by a shooting. And while the crime scene is long gone, the trauma is far from over.
After school, on November 24, 2020, police arrive on the scene of a drive-by shooting on North Prieur Street. Former Fifth District officer, Daniel McCreary, finds seven-year-old Chlo'ee Williams bleeding face down in the street.
Struck in the back, face, and neck by bullets, she looked at him and spoke words that should never come from a child.
"She asked me if she was going to die when I first got there. I told her, ‘No,’ that it wasn't that bad and she was going to be ok," Daniel McCreary remembers in 2021 about the crime scene months earlier. He is now a detective in the Crime Reduction Unit in the Burien Police Department, part of the King County Sheriff’s office, near Seattle.
His military training, and a survival kit he got from his wife at Christmas, kept Chlo'ee alive, but the bullets took her ability to walk and fully use her arms.
Over the years, we've celebrated Chlo'ee's milestones with the medical team as she left Children's Hospital, the celebration of life her mother threw a year later, with a surprise visit from Officer McCreary, and her trip to his new home in the Northeast, for a Christmas shopping spree he and fellow officers arranged for her and her mother, Leronisha.
But we've also shown you the reality of living after a violent crime. Leronisha has to lift and carry her daughter on her back to get from her wheelchair into the car or bed.
Now, two and a half years later, the struggles are even more overwhelming.
“I kept saying, at some point God going to make it to where you walk again, but just as of last two weeks, the doctor basically took all my confidence away," said Leronisha Williams, 30, of Marrero.
Chlo'ee has been in the hospital for weeks upon weeks. There's been a spinal fusion with rods implanted, a hip joint has been removed, and because she can't move, there are open pressure wounds your fist can fit in.
“They said it could take months or could be up to a year or so to heal. She got a bone infection now in her hips. So, they doing IV antibiotics three times a day to try to heal the infection.”
Leronisha is a single mother of two. The shooting means her full-time job is as a caretaker. So, it's a financial struggle too. She is trying to become a brand ambassador on Instagram to make ends meet.
“She wants to be home, but I have to give her the IV antibiotics like I have to make sure everything's sterile like the nurses and the doctors would do
when they have two different shifts. Like I have to deal with a four-year-old on top of that, like wound vac, doctor's appointments,” she said.
Being in the hospital, Chlo'ee is falling behind in school and misses her friends.
“Like she text me yesterday, and literally said, ‘I don't care how you do it,’ but for me to come get her out there, yesterday,” Leronisha explained, saying her daughter is miserable.
The hospital would not let us in to talk to Chlo'ee. So, her mom did for us.
Here is part of that conversation she recorded on her cell phone:
CHLO'EE: TIRING AND AGGRAVATING.
LERONISHA: OK, TIRING AND AGGRAVATING. HOW DO YOU FEEL BEING AWAY FROM SCHOOL FOR SO LONG BECAUSE IT'S BEEN LIKE, WHAT, THREE OR FOUR MONTHS?
CHLO'EE: I JUST FEEL LIKE I NEED TO GO BACK TO SCHOOL.
LERONISHA: SO, HOW DO YOU FEEL NOW THAT YOUR LIFE IS COMPLETELY DIFFERENT?
CHLO'EE: LIKE UNREAL. IT'S JUST LIKE IT'S UNREAL. IT'S A BIG LONG DREAM.
At only nine years old now, Chlo'ee now is heading towards diabetes as her height and weight climb. Leronisha doesn't know how she will be able to lift Chlo'ee into the car or bed. So, she follows those on social media and stops anyone in a wheelchair to ask for guidance.
“And I just like ran up to him and said, ‘Sorry, but can I ask you some questions?’ And he looked at me crazy, and I'm like, ‘No, my daughter, she's in here.’ And I had to like explain the situation, and he calm like, and he was like, ‘OK, well take my number, and I'll tell you whatever you need,’” she recalls a recent conversation with a man getting out of a wheelchair and into a car.
The shooter has not been caught.
“I'm not mad about it because I'm going to do what I have to do as a parent, but I am frustrated because the people who caused this is living and just don't understand what we going through and don't care,” she said.
According to the NOPD about Chlo'ee's case, "There are currently no updates available in this ongoing investigation."
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