ELKHART — Sitting out on his porch on Frances Avenue, Latyris Mitchell smiles and talks with a friend. He is making strides in his recovery less than two weeks after he was shot just a few blocks from his house.
Mitchell, 19, was shot outside a store in the 200 block of East Indiana Avenue on June 6. Police and paramedics were called at about 11:48 a.m. to the scene of the shooting and took him to Elkhart General Hospital.
He was released from the hospital Friday, June 14.
Mitchell was shot three times: the chest, the stomach and the right side. He has metal staples that make their way from the lower chest to the lower part of his stomach, beneath his bellybutton. He has a cavity on his right side, beneath his armpit, where another bullet went through.
On the day he was shot, Mitchell rode his bike to a store on East Indiana Avenue. It had been a normal day so far: He had watched a movie with his godbrother before leaving the house. He was still outside the store when he heard two loud “pops.” It took him a few seconds to realize he had been shot.
“All I could think was I had to go home,” he said.
As he turned around to run he was shot again on the side.
Witnesses say they heard gunshots, and by the time they looked around they saw people running from the scene. Kendall McGee, a friend of Mitchell, was one of the witnesses.
McGee said he was inside a store on Indiana Avenue when he heard the gunshots. When he turned around he saw people scattering, and Mitchell was running down Frances Avenue. Later, he heard Mitchell had been taken to the hospital.
Mitchell ran back to his house, about two blocks away from the store, leaving his bike behind.
“I don’t know what happened to the bike,” he said. “We never found it.”
When he got home he told his mother he had been shot, and she called an ambulance. At first, Mitchell didn’t feel anything, he said. But he could feel a burning sensation where he was hit about two to three minutes later. He did not lose consciousness until he made it to the hospital. During the time he waited for the ambulance to arrive and as he was being taken to the hospital, Mitchell tried to calm himself down.
“I thought I was going to die,” he said.
For a few days, Mitchell was placed under critical care, and police said his outcome was unclear. After he was stabilized — his lung was perforated and part of his small intestine had to be removed— Mitchell was finally removed from the critical care unit and was able to see his family.
He still has some difficulty walking, he can’t quite bend down for now and he can’t lift anything heavier than 15 pounds. He also has more hospital appointments. Doctors must still remove his metal staples and a fragment of a bullet that somehow traveled to the back of his leg.
But why was he shot? He doesn’t know.
Mitchell says he knows who shot him, but police have not made an arrest on this case.
Whatever the reason was behind the shooting, the experience has been an eye-opener for Mitchell, he said.
“It made me realize that maybe I was doing something wrong,” he said. “I want to treat my family better and better my life as person and my future.”