A little after 7:00 p.m. on the evening of March 29, 2017, Terrell Williams was on his way to his job to drop off some supplies and materials before finally heading home after a long day of work. Terrell decided to stop at a store near the intersection of 41st and Bank in West Louisville before he intended to proceed to his brother’s house.
As Terrell exited the store, he noticed the windshield wipers of his 2003 Nissan Maxima were going - something he didn’t do and definitely out of place, as it was a beautiful spring day. As he approached the car, he noticed someone in his driver’s seat. Like many in the Louisville community, Terrell carried a firearm for personal protection. When he saw that his car was about to be stolen, Terrell instinctively chambered a round and prepared to confront the would-be thief. “As soon as I aim my gun at the guy sitting in my car, I feel something pierce my right side. What I didn’t notice was the guy who intended to steal my car had multiple people [spotters] across the street looking out for him. As soon as they saw my gun, they started shooting.”
Multiple rounds hit Terrell in his chest and his spine. Terrell hit the ground, but “...went into survival mode. I picked up my gun and started shooting at the only target I saw.” [A reminder to the reader, Terrell didn’t notice the other spotters, and at the moment thought the gunfire was coming from the direction of the car]. Terrell noticed that, in the moment, he couldn’t get off the ground; the round that pierced his spine paralyzed him instantly from the waist down. The thief only managed to get a few feet away before crashing Terrell’s stolen Nissan. The thief exited the vehicle and proceeded towards the downed Terrell, firing a few rounds in the process. Several of the rounds hit Terrell, including one that hit him in the neck. A stranger was able to contact Terrell’s brother (who lived only a few doors down), who arrived on the scene in under a minute.
Terrell was taken to UofL Health, where he underwent numerous procedures. While his recovery process was challenging, Terrell notes that the teams at UofL Health and the Frazier Rehabilitation Institute did an incredible job reminding him that, though life might look a little different in a wheelchair, he could still enjoy many aspects of life that he experienced prior to the paralyzation of his life.
“You’re going to run into challenges, there will be different types of challenges, but don’t let it hold you down. If something’s not right, speak up about it, but you can still do what you want to do. But you can still do what you want to do. Don’t let the world get to you. Overcome it.”
Terell recently graduated with a Master of Accounting from NC State, and will begin his job with RSM International in Raleigh, North Carolina in October 2023. He hopes to eventually use his accounting skills to help with efforts about gun violence prevention through organizations like the Whitney Strong Foundation and Pushing Forward Inc. You can learn more about these organizations at whitneystrong.org and pushingforwardinc.org, respectively.