Woman critically injured in I-85 shooting determined to walk again

Credit: WSBTV Videos

Caption
Student paralyzed in road rage shooting on I-85 vows to walk again

Credit: WSBTV Videos

A woman who was shot in a road-rage incident on I-85 in April suffered a spinal injury that left her partially paralyzed, although she is determined to regain the use of her legs.

Amari Franklin, 22, of Newnan, was injured April 20 as she drove home from her overnight job at a distribution center for meal kit delivery service Hello Fresh, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution previously reported.

The man suspected of shooting Franklin, 22-year-old Deanthony Clark, also worked at Hello Fresh, but the two did not know each other. Police believe Clark was angered when Franklin accidentally cut him off in the Hello Fresh parking lot as the two left the facility, Channel 2 Action News reported. He followed her onto the highway and pulled alongside her before firing multiple shots at her car, the Coweta County Sheriff’s Office said.

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“In my rearview, I could see a car coming up really fast. We made eye contact probably about five times. He had a ski mask on. Then I saw red beams of lights shining into my car. I just heard a lot of wind, then I felt something hit me,” Franklin told Channel 2.

She was hit twice, once in the shoulder and once in the armpit, she said. The second bullet remains lodged in her spine.

As soon as she was hit, she lost feeling in her legs — even as she continued to drive down the highway. She was forced to use her hands to move her foot off the pedals and tried to push the brake pedal with her hand. She was ultimately able to stop by pulling her emergency brake.

Throughout the ordeal, Franklin was on the phone with a 911 dispatcher.

“I touched my right shoulder and I saw blood on my hands and I realized I had been shot. I kept saying I needed them to hurry up ’cause I thought I was going to pass out,” Franklin said.

Franklin, a fashion design student at Clark Atlanta University, was told by doctors soon after her injury that she might not be able to walk again. However, she is determined to regain her mobility.

“I’m starting to regain feeling back in my body. I feel my ribs, my bottom, my tailbone, and I’m starting to get some feeling in my legs,” Franklin said. “I will walk again. I want people to never give up on themselves, no matter what.”

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help Franklin with her medical expenses and expected lengthy recovery. According to the fundraising page, Franklin’s single mother is helping to support her and another daughter who is also in college. The family’s home will need alterations to make it wheelchair accessible, and Franklin’s car was totaled in the shooting. She will need a wheelchair-compatible car in the future.

The fundraising page also highlights the progress Franklin has made so far in the first few weeks of her recovery. It includes videos of her physical therapy, learning to use a lift to get from bed to wheelchair and more.

Clark, the suspected shooter, was arrested April 22 on charges of aggravated battery and aggravated assault. He was booked into the Coweta County Jail and remains there after his bond was denied.