LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - In June 2020, an attempted robbery left ride-share driver Khatry Abehalli paralyzed from the neck down.
The bullet severing his spinal cord was only the beginning of a life of pain and questions.
“Why?” Abehalli asked. “I don’t know why these people now go and live that shoot people.”
A native of Mauritania who moved to the United States six years ago, Abehalli said he still has difficulty speaking English, and asks people to speak slowly so he can understand.
He also said he struggles to speak as a ventilator forces air into his lungs and keeps him alive.
Abehalli brings a face and a voice to a seldom-told story of bloody trauma and loss that strikes an increasing number of Louisvillians.
”People don’t see what gunshot-wound victims and victims of violent crimes go through when they are in the ICU, and what their families go through,” UofL nurse Katie Eifert said. “I mean, it is heart-wrenching”
Abehalli was a soccer player and is a father of two. In 2020, he was just one of the 586 people wounded in Louisville by criminal gunfire. That’s more than triple the record number of homicides that year. So far in 2021, as of Sunday, the pace of shootings had doubled compared to last year, with 113 more people wounded compared to 34 homicides.
”It’s disheartening to see and to experience on a daily basis,” Eifert said, “because human life has a lot of value, and I think that people don’t consider that when they start shooting.”
Abehalli said he spent more than 260 days recovering at UofL. Now in a rehab facility, his UofL nurses arranged a Zoom call with media to celebrate his 31st birthday. He expressed gratitude for their love and care. And he had a few words for those who commit acts of violence.
“Please,” Abehalli said. “People (who shoot) people, you need to stop. Do this.”