‘It’s a minor setback for a major comeback’ : 15-year-old Dadeville shooting victim speaks out

Published: May. 3, 2023 at 7:30 PM CDT
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Opelika, Ala. (WSFA) - The stories continue to come in about that fateful night when four people died, and 32 were injured at a birthday party in Dadeville. Most of the victims are under the age of 21.

One teenager who was shot several times is now sharing his account of what happened. He says what started out as fun ended in gunfire and chaos.

15-year-old Makai Simpson was shot six times in the Dadeville mass shooting. Many of the wounds are still visible. Doctors say some of the bullets are too dangerous to remove.

“I’ve had two surgeries, one on my hand and one on my kneecap. I’m blessed just to be here,” said Makai Simpson.

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“The shots went off and it happened when we were all in a circle,” she recalled, “and then they went off and I looked up and just saw the gun fire, the color of the fire, everybody started running.”

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“When you have little hope and then you have everything go right it’s a ten so… it’s a good feeling,” said father of Cara Johns, Justin Johns.

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“I can’t move at all right now,” Kendarrius Heard, 18, explained. “I had back surgery so the bullet went through my back, and I can’t feel my legs right now and my side.”

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Cheryl Sledge Richards said it’s a miracle her daughter, 16-year-old Trinity Richards, survived the mass shooting on April 15. The Pike Road High School junior is still in the hospital in critical condition.

Trinity Richards mother says it is a miracle that her daughter survived the Dadeville Shooting.

Makai does remember the night of the shooting. He says one moment they were dancing and enjoying the birthday party, the next, gunfire erupted and people rushed to get out of the building.

“Everybody got on top of me. So I kind of was at the bottom, and I couldn’t get out. And then I felt my leg was tingling. I didn’t think I was shot. But I knew I had to get up and go. So I kind of pushed myself up and made it out the door and crawled,” said Simpson.

Once out of the building, Makai called out for help.

“A guy named Jamichael, he helped me. He put me in his car, and he came back to help other people,” said Simpson.

His mother and grandmother say they did not know any of the suspects. Their hope is justice is served for all of the victims.

“This was uncalled for. You hurt innocent people, said Mallory Simpson, Makai’s mother. “Put the guns down.”

“I know it’ll be a long healing process, but God is on our side,” Margaret Cobb Makai’s grandmother.

Makai says his family has fueled his fight to get better. The Opelika High sophomore’s number one goal right now is to get back on the football field.

“It’s a minor setback for a major comeback,” said Simpson

Right now, Makai is in a wheelchair, but with physical and occupational therapy, he hopes to be back on his feet by August.

Once fully healed, Makai hopes to return to the football field, and he already has several offers from Division One schools.

A GoFundMe has been set up to help the family with medical expenses.

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