Monica Meadows, a 23-year-old model, is lucky to be alive.
The Georgia-born aspiring actress came to New York last year seeking fame and fortune. On Tuesday, June 1, she was shot on a subway train near world-famous Times Square. Incredibly, she did not suffer any life-threatening injuries, inspiring doctors to give her the nickname "the miracle model."
She was released from Bellevue Hospital Thursday. And on Friday, looking fit and healthy, she showed The Early Show co-anchor Julie Chen the bandage on her shoulder.
She says the bullet went through her chest and out her shoulder. If the bullet had strayed just 10 millimeters, she probably would have died.
"It was a little scary, but I'm fine," she says.
The shooting came without warning in the middle of the day on an un-crowded subway car, where every passenger had a seat.
I think it was around 1:00, 1:30 maybe. I had been to a couple of castings and I went to my agency, was headed to another casting at the time. So I think it was around 1:30." Meadows recalls.
She was seated between two men, sipping a cup of soda. The next thing witnesses knew, someone got up and fired a shot.
Meadows says, "Then I hear a pop. A pop. It was not anything you think of as a gunshot. And I felt heat next to me.
"Everyone kind of looked in my direction. I thought they were looking at the guy next to me. I don't know. And my arm flew out and did something really weird that I knew my brain didn't tell it to do. So I stood up. I was surprised.
"And blood started rushing down my arm. Then I knew it was me that was hurt. At the time I thought maybe something had flown off the train or something, something had happened with the train. I didn't really know. It wasn't until a wonderful woman named Donna. I don't know her. God bless her, came to my aid.
"Took me up to the MTA office, you know, ticket building, and said, 'This woman needs help. She's been shot.' That's when I knew. I had no idea I'd been shot. No clue. I was kind of like, 'I've been shot, I'm still standing here. I'm all right.'"
Eventually, paramedics arrived. But before that, "Another wonderful girl came to my aid. Her name is Ashley. She put pressure on the wound. When I was sitting and knew I was being helped, that was when I realized that I was hurting and I was a little freaked out and I was like, 'OK, I need to go to the emergency room. Please let someone come soon.'"
The shooter, described by witnesses as a "scruffy" man in his early 30s, fired a small-caliber round. He fled into another car, then slipped away from the subway after it stopped at West 42nd Street and possibly disappeared into a tunnel.
"There was no arguing that I heard," Meadows notes. "It was just out of nowhere, a pop." Police said they don't know if Monica Meadows was the intended target.
Meadows says, "They're not keeping me in on everything, obviously. I don't believe anyone has come forward to say yes, or no."
A former roommate was questioned by police but released without being charged. He was questioned because he resembled the description of the suspect.
And though Meadows says she has not have the chance to talk to her former roommate, she says, she doesn't believe he is the shooter.
Since her shooting, Meadows has gotten a lot of publicity, and she has gotten some offers from the New York City theater community.
She says, "We have been getting a lot of calls. I have a wonderful agent and publicist. They've been dealing with that and I've been dealing with my health. They've been talking to people. I guess if something bad like this can happen hopefully some good can come of it, too. I'm determined to pursue my career and keep doing some musicals and TV shows. It's a great city. I've only been here a year and a half and it's wonderful. I've been working."
Meadows is adamant that she will stay in New York and even plans to ride the subways in the future. She says, "I'll be hesitant and have people with me at first to get through it. But it's a random occurrence."
Here are Meadows's career highlights:
- In 2004, she got a small part in "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" as well as modeled in the "Dressed to Thrill" fashion show to raise money for White Plains Performing Arts Center.
- She also got the lead role in "Fashion" at the White Plains Performing Arts Center
- Played an heiress to the Devoreux Mining fortune in "The City's Edge," an Internet soap opera
- And has had various local fashion shows and print ads including one for Russell Athletics