Leader Blues

Friday, June 05, 2009

TOP STORY >> How shooting victim survived attack at LR recruiting station

By GARRICK FELDMAN
Leader executive editor

Pvt. Quinton Ezeagwula is limping around his home in Jacksonville with several bullet holes in his body and shrapnel in his lung, his neck and down his back.

A terrorist sprayed him with bullets Monday morning at an Army recruiting station in west Little Rock.

Ezeagwula, 18, survived by playing dead after he was shot. Pvt. William Long, 23, of Conway died from a single bullet wound. He will be buried Monday.

Ezeagwula, who graduated from Jacksonville High School last year, pulls up his T-shirt, and you can see his back is all shot up.

A visitor thought Ezeagwula would be in bed while he recovers from the gunshot wounds that nearly killed him. But this tough guy a former Red Devils football player doesnt stay in bed much. He takes some pain pills and a nurse visits him daily to tend to his wounds.

Ezeagwula, who left the hospital on Thursday, talked about his ordeal as his family sat with him, just grateful that hes alive.

Im thanking God hes at home, says his aunt, Vicki Jones.

Ezeagwula and Long were standing outside the recruiting station in Ashley Square Shopping Center near Rodney Parham Road when a dark pickup approached them as they took a smoke break.

Wed been standing outside for five minutes, Ezeagwula says, as he sits on a couch in the living room.

He and Long had worked there only for a week as temporary recruiters before they were supposed to head out for their next assignment. He was really a nice guy, Ezeagwula says.

At 10:19 a.m. Monday, Abdul-hakim Mujahid Muhammad, 24, aka Carlos Leon Bledsoe, reached for a cheap Chinese semiautomatic rifle and started firing.

Muhammad was saying something, but Ezeagwula couldnt understand him.

Despite earlier reports, the two soldiers were not armed. Recruiters dont carry weapons.

Ezeagwula doesnt remember some of the details of the shooting. But his mother, Sonia, says that when Muhammad reached for his rifle, her son thought it was a prank.

When he pulled out his gun, (Quinton) thought he was playing, his mother says. I had just dropped him off 20 minutes earlier.

But Muhammad was deadly serious. Hed come to kill as many soldiers as he could gun down.

Long was shot first and was mortally wounded. Hed been shot once.

Ezeagwula was shot in his neck, back and buttocks. He tried to run, fell down and played dead.

I was bleeding, but I didnt think I was seriously hurt, he says.

When Muhammad drove off, the Jacksonville teenager started crawling back toward the recruiting office.

As he lay wounded, he called his mother on his cell phone to tell her that he was all right, but she didnt answer.

A sergeant came running out from the recruiting office. He asked me if I was OK, Ezeagwula said. I told him Id been shot.

As they put Ezeagwula in an ambulance, the sergeant called the privates mother to tell her that hed been shot.

Who would have thought something like that would happen at a recruiting station? she asks.

Hes a good son. He never was in a gang. He never stole for drugs. He stayed on a good path.

The family has just moved into a new house and would have had to wait until Monday to get electricity, but Rep. Vic Snyders office had the power turned on a couple days ago.

Im just so glad to see this boy, his mother says.

Ezeagwula is staying in the Army and is headed for Hawaii when he recovers.

He wants to continue serving his country, his mother says.