12-year-old reflects on shooting that left them paralyzed

Local

TROY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — 12-year-old MJ Rivera, partially paralyzed by a bullet shot into their home, is now reflecting on the life changing incident that happened back in March.

MJ Rivera has been drawing and playing video games to keep busy at home. The 12-year-old is learning how to adjust and do everyday life in a wheelchair.

“We were glad to have them come back home so we can try to move on with our life and what not and try to figure out what our new normal is,” says MJ’s mom Jona Rivera. MJ says without a doubt, this journey has been difficult.

“I thought I got shot in the heart. I didn’t even want to close my eyes because I wanted to stay awake instead of dying,” says MJ. The incident happened nearly two months ago, but MJ remembers it like it was yesterday. “Imagine half of your body gets teleported to the middle of the Atlantic and then like your ribs close in on themselves…That’s what it felt like…You couldn’t breathe?…Yeah.”

“It definitely could have been worse, so we’re very thankful that MJ is still here with us, and we’re able to tackle whatever we need to tackle from here on,” says Jona.

Despite everything that happened, Jona says the bullet could have hit both MJ and their precious cat, Stanley.

“The bullet went through where my cat sits. Stanley usually sits on our couch and the bullet that hit MJ went through the window, through the couch, so MJ is saying if Stanley was sitting there it would have went through Stanley, too. That would have been bad.”

“I would have got shot in the head instead of the back,” MJ adds.

Thursday and every day moving forward, the Rivera family has been adapting to their new normal. Thanks to the community’s generous donations and through MJ’s dad’s company, The Center of Internet Security, the family was able to purchase a wheelchair assessable van.

“It’s nice. It works for MJ. It was a good purchase,” says Jona.

The family hasn’t made a lot of changes just yet. Ultimately, they think the best bet is to move into a bigger house, possibly out of state.

“We’re making it work, but it would be lovely to have more space,” says Jona. MJ enjoys the cold weather but their family was thinking somewhere down south. As long as MJ gets the right medical attention, the family is willing to go anywhere.

Since the incident, MJ doesn’t like to be in the living room because it plays back nightmares where they got shot. “Sometimes I can’t really sleep at night. There was one time I barely got any sleep…because of your anxiety? Yes.” MJ feels safe in their bedroom.

“We still have a little nervousness inside of us because the people that did this to MJ is still out there and there’s people that know stuff…so they should come forward,” says Jona. Troy Police are still searching for suspects as the Rivera Family hopes justice will soon be served.

The Rivera family says the community’s support means everything now more than ever. “To this day, we still get so many prayers, and that’s going to help us get through,” Jona adds.

As long as MJ is able to hug and hang with their furry friend Stanley, they say it’s going to get better day-by-day. “And Stanley was excited to see them.”

The Rivera family would like to want thank everyone for to all the support from the community and especially The Center for Internet Security (CIS) which helped along with the GoFundMe page in raising enough money to purchase a wheelchair assessable van from Mobility Works in Colonie Albany.

The Riveras also would like to thank Brad Lewis from Lewis Lawn Care & Masonry for laying the concrete and for fixing the siding, Bonded Concrete INC. for donating the concrete, Quality Glads in Troy for donating the window glass and storm door glass. The family still needs to get the front door fixed.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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