Woman paralyzed in midtown shooting leaves rehab


ATLANTA,None - A woman left paralyzed after a shooting at a midtown Atlanta parking garage went home Thursday from the Shepherd Center.

A gunman shot Lauren Garcia and two other women in what appeared to be a random outburst of violence. One woman died.

Garcia, 22, has been working to recover from a life-changing gunshot wound to her lower back. The bullet severed her spinal cord, leaving her paralyzed from the waist down. Her doctor, Brock Bowman, told Channel 2's Diana Davis her recovery has been challenging.

"Initially, just getting out of bed is a struggle because they are learning to move with only a portion of their body," Bowman said.

Garcia has been a patient at the Shepherd Center for nearly two months. Nkosi Thandiwe, a stranger to her, was charged in the shooting spree.

Garcia's injury was so severe that she is not expected to ever walk again. The Shepherd center staff said Garcia has worked every day through pain.

"It changes the direction of her life, and with that is a roller coaster ride between being optimistic and hopeful, and there's the bad moments, the bad days, the ‘why me?,' the ‘why now?' and ‘why ever?'" said Bowman.

A marriage proposal from her long-time boyfriend, written in giant letters on the roof of the Shepherd Center's parking garage was one of the good days. Garcia accepted, and doctors said her family and friends have stood by her.

"She has great family support. Her fiance has been trained to help in her care where necessary, as have her parents," Bowman said.

Rehabilitation so far has been geared toward retraining Garcia in every aspect of daily life, "[to] do all the things that we take for granted," Bowman said.

He said Garcia is doing a good job of looking forward to the future and focusing on what she can do, not on what she's lost.

Thandiwe, the suspect, worked as a security guard for Allied Barton. Garcia was an intern with the MSL group at the time. Investigators don't think he targeted any of his victims. He is due in court next week.

The Garcia family has established a trust fund for Garcia's medical-related needs. Donations can be made to: The Lauren E. Garcia Trust, 6622 East Broad Street, Douglasville, Ga.

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