LUBBOCK, Texas — A local teenager is still recovering after being shot outside the Lubbock Drug Emporium in August. His injuries left him paralyzed from the neck down, but now, he’s made big progress on his road to recovery that’s astounding his doctors and even himself.
“From them telling me that I wouldn’t move a finger again to just moving my wrist is a miracle,” Aaron Assiter said.
“This doesn’t seem like just eight months worth of progress that he can sit in a chair and pretty much take care of himself,” Melissa Assiter, Aaron’s mother, said.
Assiter, a high school senior, said his story is full of miracles, starting the night he was shot. He was shot at close range just days after his 18th birthday as he sat in his car in the parking lot of the Drug Emporium.
The bullet burned through his neck, “obliterating” his spinal cord and paralyzing the teen. The impact of the bullet caused him to step on his gas pedal — his car slamming into a building as his phone flew just out of reach.
He calls what happened next his first miracle.
“I see this light — it disappears in a split second. I feel these hands grab me and shake me. Shake me, shake me, shake me, violently, and I wake up. When I wake up, my phone that was on the floor board was in my hand,” Assiter said during an October interview from his hospital room in Denver, where he was doing rehabilitation.
He said his doctors told him he’d likely never move his body below his chest again. Now, the teen is using both of his hands and arms and has regained some sensation in his legs. He hopes one day to walk again.
But his successes have come with an emotional cost.
“I’ve spent countless nights crying myself to sleep, countless nights angry with God,” Assiter said.
“I think that was a big shocker when he got back home. He thought life was going to be the same when he got back to Texas [after months of rehab in Denver], and it wasn’t. So he didn’t have the will to fight and live at first,” Melissa said.
The trauma from the shooting still casts a shadow, but surprisingly, Assiter isn’t bitter toward the people who attacked him. In fact, it’s just the opposite.
“To the people that did this to me, not even for a second would I wish it on any of them. Not even for a second,” Assiter said with emotion in his voice.
He wants them to know he forgives them — all except for one.
“One of the other guys that was there, after they shot me, he came back to the car, looked in the window, saw me bleeding out asking for help, smiled and walked off. I don’t think I can forgive him” Assiter said.
All four of the suspects involved in the shooting are in police custody, and there will be a pre-trial hearing for them at the end of May.
“[Aaron] is a survivor. He’s a fighter … There’s so much life ahead of Aaron, and there’s just so many other possibilities. Keep trusting in God. God’s the only hope,” Melissa said.
Assiter credited his family and his faith in God for the strength to keep moving his fingers, and some day, he hopes even more.
“I’m here, and I’m happy, and I’m alive,” Assiter said.