As part of The DC Project's initiative to bring awareness to survivors of gun violence in America, we here at Mom-At-Arms have reached out to many throughout the nation to share their stories of survival and WHY they choose to be their own first responder. These Gun Violence Survivors you'll be hearing from are not the ones you'll hear about in the mainstream whirlwinds that Gun Control groups own and push. Why?
Because these Survivors of Gun Violence are Pro Gun... and... they want to be heard.
Meet Elizabeth Santiago. At 15 years old, her life was changed drastically by a person with a gun. Now, she fights to make sure others know the truth about firearms.
On the 26th Anniversary of Elizabeth's tragic shooting, we are honored to share her story as the first in our continuous category through Mom-At-Arms, called, "The Survivor Series."
You can read her story, in her words, below.
"You often hear of gunshot wound survivors becoming gun control advocates. And many would expect someone like me, who’s life was drastically changed by it, to be one as well. But due to my upbringing I have a slightly different take on things. This is my story.
In the spring of 1994, Sacramento, Ca. was a cesspool of violence and crime. Carjackings were an everyday occurrence. My father's worst fears were brought to life the night he got a pounding on the door around 11:30pm and was told that his 15 year old daughter had been shot.
I was leaving the movie theater that was just a few blocks away, when a man with a gun approached the vehicle I was riding in. I was in the backseat of a 1980 Cutlass Supreme that was fitting for the time. My sister and I were trapped in the backseat.
The man pistol whipped the driver and said, “put the keys in the ignition and get the f*** out”! Disoriented, the driver dropped the keys to the floorboard. The man then shot into the car striking me once in my right side. I was on top of my sister when my whole body went limp.
I can still hear my sisters screams over the ringing in my ears. He yelled for us to get out. She shouted back “she can’t move... you shot her”! So he reached in, grabbed me by my arm and flung my 98lbs body to the concrete. My sister jumped out and the gunman sped off in the car.
My sister was frantically trying to find the bullet wound and I just kept telling her my stomach was burning and I couldn’t move my legs. Our friend picked me up and took me back into the theater because the gunman was not alone. There was another car with him.
Once the medics got there our friend ran to my house to tell my father. All I could think about was how much trouble I was going to be in. In the ambulance they asked me a ton of questions and I answered them as best I could. I remember arguing with them that I couldn’t breath.
I got to the emergency room and was assessed and prepped for exploratory surgery. My father finally got to the hospital. He entered the room and with his dry sense of humor he looked at me and said, “you’re grounded”, I responded by flipping him off ... 😊 That was our relationship.
When I woke up days later I had staples from my sternum to under my bellybutton, tubes everywhere and was told I’d likely never walk again. I took it all in stride.
“Everything happens for a reason” was my mantra.
My other injuries were pretty serious but I was stable.
One bullet entered my body on my right side about 3-4 inches below my armpit and exited on the left side of my lower back.
I had a 3 broken ribs, a pierced lung, damage to my liver, a kidney, and it clipped the vertebrae at T12 and L1 causing my spinal cord to swell up to T10.
I spent about 3 days in the NSICU and then about 10 days in the trauma nursing unit at UCDMC.
I was moved to the rehab floor for another 4 weeks to learn how to live my life from a chair.