Family of paralyzed 12-year-old calls on community to end gun violence

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TROY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Troy Police continue to search for suspects in a drive-by shooting that left 12-year-old MJ Rivera paralyzed. The Rivera family spoke with NEWS10 ABC on the importance of putting an end to gun violence.

Back in March, MJ was sitting at home when a stray bullet struck the 12-year-old in the back. That bullet left MJ paralyzed from the waist down.

Friends and family said three words come to mind when it comes to MJ: a true fighter. During the tragedy, they said MJ’s positive attitude has never wavered.

“It’s just crazy how there’s a lot of young kids in the community that are doing things like this. They don’t realize the impact. It baffles my mind that someone would pick up a gun, when you dislike somebody so much that you want to take someone’s life. It’s just disturbing,” said Jona Rivera, MJ’s mom.

Jona Rivera said time is of the essence, and the Troy community needs to speak up before the next tragedy hits. 

“A lot of people who are out there are afraid, and they don’t want to say what’s going on in their community. But that’s the only way that this might change, and for this to happen to innocent kids, it just shouldn’t happen,” she said.

Through the ups and downs, the Rivera family said the love and support from the community has lifted their spirits.

“There’s been letters and donations sent to the house from people that we don’t even know,” said Rivera. 

After being released from the hospital, MJ was taken to a local rehab center for further treatment.

“MJ is doing well and doing great in rehab. Every day MJ is doing something new, which is great. We are just trying to get MJ’s upper half a little bit stronger.”

The Rivera family said MJ’s story has spoken volumes about the need for change.  

“It’s important if you know something to just say something. Because that’s what people need to do for this horrific gun violence, hopefully, to change for the better,” she said.

As MJ continues to get stronger at a local rehab center, the Riveras are hoping to bring MJ home in the next month or so.

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