(Memphis) The victim of a Tuesday shooting outside the North Frayser Community Center is recovering, though a bullet is lodged in the back of his head.
Michael Williams, 17, was at the community center to attend an anti-violence meeting hosted by 901 BLOC, a city initiative to curb gun crime.
Williams said he’s a former Blood gang member from Michigan, who has turned his life around, with the help of his father, who’s a minister in Memphis.
Williams no longer participates in gang activity. Instead, he works with 901 BLOC to help other at-risk youth make positive choices.
He said that on Tuesday night, young men with different gang affiliations were included in the meeting together.
“We came in a car with three opposite gangs,” he said.
There was no conflict. In fact, when he stepped outside to use the phone, his friend, a Vice Lord, came with him.
But they soon heard shots and saw two men running toward them.
“They blind-sided us from the behind,” Williams said. He and his friend started running in two different directions.
“I noticed the fifth shot. It hit me. When it hit me, it hit me like a force. Just knocked me face-down. And when it knocked me down, I didn’t know if I was dead or anything. But I played dead for about three minutes.”
When the adrenaline of escaping the gunmen wore off, he started to feel the pain and see the blood.
“It’s like a firecracker within inches of your ear being let off. And it rings the inside of your head. And it’s like a massive migraine that you wouldn’t want to wish on your worst enemy.”
He remembers one suspect, around 6’2”, who wore a white hoodie with a black cap, positioned straightforward. He said a gang member would have worn a cap to one side or the other.
The other man wore a black fleece with a skull cap. Williams said this man had a beard that was maybe 3.5 inches long.
No one, including Williams or his friend, wore any gang colors or symbols. He said the shooters didn’t say anything before they fired.
His father, Eddie Williams, said Tuesday was one of the most difficult experiences of his life.
“I’m riding on two wheels. I’m scared to death. I don’t want anybody to go through that,” his father said.
His father emphasized their family’s faith, and that “what the devil meant for evil, God meant for good.”
Michael Williams believes the shooting may have been because of 901 BLOC’s positive message.
He thinks people may have set this up.
“I believe I was gunned down because I was doing something positive that they didn’t want,” he said, adding, “If I go out here, try to speak something positive, am I going to die today, am I going to get shot?”
His father said the efforts to help kids put down the guns and pick up the books should continue, with more support from the community.