Arizona lawmaker Jennifer Longdon can still hear the gunshot that paralyzed her from the chest down.
She was going out to eat with her fiance, David, on Nov. 15, 2004 when a pickup truck sideswiped their car in a parking lot of a taco shop in Phoenix.
Seconds later, someone inside the truck fired gunshots. Longdon was struck in the back. Her fiance, a Taekwondo champion and martial-arts instructor, was shot in the head and shoulder.
David suffered severe brain damage. Longdon would never walk again. The truck with the shooter fled the scene.
That was 15 years ago. The shooting remains unsolved.
Longdon, now a state representative from Phoenix and board member for Silent Witness, spoke to the media at the Phoenix Police Department on Sunday morning.
Sitting in her wheelchair, she asked anyone with information about the shooting that forever changed her life to share what they know to police — anonymously or otherwise.
Longdon said she doesn’t know why the person shot her and her fiance.
“What I do know is a person who is capable of doing this act is still in our community somewhere,” she said. “And there are people that know about it and they’re protecting that individual with their silence.”
Longdon teared up as she recalled how her then-12-year-old son was ripped out of bed and rushed to a trauma room where his mother was covered in blood.
“I remember his sweet little face was so pale,” Longdon said, wiping tears from her cheek. “And his eyes were just so big. And he was trying to be so brave. And he was so afraid. And our kids should never be that brave or that afraid.”
Longdon said her feelings toward the shooter have evolved in the nearly 15 years that have passed. She initially wanted revenge against the person who fired a bullet into her back and wounded the man she was in love with.
Then, she wanted justice. Justice turned to closure. Now, she just wants peace.
“I’ve worked in the community for these years, and I know that an event like this leaves a deep scar, not just on the lives of the person immediately impacted, but on the entire community,” Longdon said. “And I’ve worked every day to try and heal that scar on my community. And I think that the person who fired the gun that night is part of that healing.”
Longdon slowly began piecing her life back together after being discharged from the hospital, eventually becoming an advocate against gun violence. She won her seat in the Arizona House of Representatives last year and testified in front of Congress about her experience in September.
Those with information about the shooting that shattered the lives of Longdon and her family can contact Silent Witness at 480-WITNESS or 480-TESTIGO for Spanish.
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