Derrick Daniels came to Atlanta to escape the gun violence in his Chicago hometown.
A sophomore education major at Clark Atlanta University, Daniels, though, found himself in the midst of a shooting during a block party Tuesday night outside the Atlanta University Center library.
Police say an argument between two parties appears to have occurred before the shooting.
Four students, who police say were not the intended targets, are being treated for non-life threatening injuries.
Daniels, 19, was one of several students who stepped in to help the wounded by taking off his shirt and using it to apply pressure to a female student’s leg wound. Soon, students with ROTC training took over and then police arrived.
“My heart was mourning for her,” said Daniels, who didn’t know the young woman. “I knew I needed to do something to help her. Her friends were touching the wound but not really doing compression.”
He said he knew to apply pressure from his dad, who was in the military and as someone who learned what to do just by growing up in Chicago.
Daniels said he has lost several friends to gun violence in Chicago. Earlier this month, the city experienced a weekend of gun violence that included seven deaths and 52 people wounded.
“I don’t want to say I’ve become desensitized to these kinds of things, but being the type of person I am, I always want to be able to help people in these situations. I want to keep a level head at all times,” he told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Wednesday.
Daniels said the party started out fine.
There was music, dancing and friends greeting each other after summer break.
Suddenly he heard about three to four shots. Silence. Then six or seven more.
From his vantage point, he didn’t see or hear an argument and didn’t witness the actual shooting.
He said people started running, some fell and were stepped on. He and his friends who were standing across the street from the party left quickly as well, but returned. That’s when he saw the wounded student.
Those who know Daniels aren’t surprised by his actions.
Tenisha Taylor Bell has awarded Daniels a scholarship two years in a row from her family’s nonprofit that was named in honor of her father, Ezekiel Taylor, who was murdered in Chicago in 1982.
The Ezekiel Taylor Foundation helps African American male students who have been affected by Chicago’s gun violence.
Kyle Hobson, a junior political science major at Morehouse, is among the many heralding his friend Derrick Daniels.
“Derrick is an amazing dude,” Hobson said. “His energy is always high. He’s a helper. He’s a people person. We need more of those. That’s like my little brother.”
Staff writer Jennifer Brett contributed to this story.