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Cost of Gunfire: Daijah Hammonds shares her story after surviving gunshot wound

Gunshot survivor Daijah Hammonds shares her recovery story
Gunshot survivor Daijah Hammonds shares her recovery story 07:17

MINNEAPOLIS — It's a scene that has played out hundreds of times in recent years: Minneapolis police race to the scene of a shooting.

This one was in 2022, a year where 544 people were shot. In this case, one victim died, and three others got hurt.

One of those survivors is bystander Daijah Hammonds. At the time, police said she had potentially life-threatening wounds.

Nearly two years later, she's recovering and making big strides. 


The 22-year old lives in a group home, a place to help her become more independent. 

"You have to re-learn how to sit up, how to eat, how to crawl, how to stand, how to walk," Hammonds said.

She's been through a lot since March, 2022. That's when police responded to shots fired. Hammonds says she was helping chaperone a birthday for a friends younger sister — that turned into party — at a rented home in south Minneapolis.

Sometime after 2 a.m., she was trying get people to leave when bullets pierced the home. 

"It just came through the windows, and I was the first one hit. Then I heard a zing, like an electric feeling and sound and then I remember my body felt like it deflated. And then we were on the floor," Hammonds said.

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She says when a friend tried to turn her, she knew it was serious.

"I started feeling the pain then and I started panicking and all I knew was I couldn't go to sleep because I knew that I probably wouldn't make it if I went to sleep," Hammonds said.

Another part that stays with her: she was next to a young man who was also shot. 

"Unfortunately, I seen him take his last breaths. That's probably, out of everything, the hardest thing. I think about him every day and I will for the rest of my life," Hammonds said.

First responders rushed Hammonds to Hennepin Healthcare where she spent two months recovering. She was told she'd never walk again. 

"The bullet hit my vertebrae, and a piece of my vertebrae was lodged into my spine," Hammonds said. 

She spent time in physical therapy at Abbott. And then at Courage Kenny, where she still goes to for physical therapy today. 

Hammonds undergoes physical therapy.  WCCO

"I forget a lot of the times that I was shot. Because now I'm in this situation, until I get a moment to sit and be like 'whoa,'" Hammonds said. 

She's not letting her injury limit her; she uses braces on her legs to stand and then walk.

"The strength it takes is tremendous. I use about 95% of my arm strength and 5% of my legs, and with my leg brace it is mostly my legs and my core," Hammonds said.

She finds the strength. 

"I heard the doctors say 'hey you're not going to walk again,' but what I heard was I have to prove you wrong," Hammonds said.

Mental recovery and focusing on the future

Daijah says the physical injury affects so many other aspects of her life.

"People think people who are in wheelchairs that they can't walk. Or they can't stand. No, it's literally all the functions here down, so bladder, bowel. So that was probably the hardest thing of it all. I cared about having to cath and my bowel program and I felt very self-conscious," Hammonds said.

She says shaving her head after being grazed by bullets on either side threw her confidence.

"It was the first time it really hit me that it was me going through this. I didn't recognize who was in the mirror," Hammonds said.

And then there was the mental recovery.

"After it happened, I couldn't get sleep because of nightmares. I was attacked in my sleep every night," Hammonds said.

She goes to therapy to work through what she's been through. 

"Even on my hardest days if I have to strap on a smile I will, I do it all the time, every day honestly," Hammonds said.

And learn how to process the dark moments. She says therapy has helped.

"Without therapy probably wouldn't be here. I probably would have ended my life honestly," Hammonds said.

She learned about the cost of gunfire far too young. At 5, her dad died after being shot multiple times. A close friend lost his life to gun violence in 2022.

She now wants to focus on the future. And helping young people.

"What would you say to someone that's thinking of picking up a gun to solve a situation?" Mayerle asked.

"That bullets don't have names and they don't care who it hits. I just want people to understand that conflict can be resolved without violence," Hammonds said.

Hammonds says she hopes to transition from the group home to more independent housing soon.

The case is unsolved. If you have any information, call Minneapolis police. 

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