Philadelphia teen, Dashawn Walker, was on his way home from school in February when a gunman opened fire on him, striking the then-17-year-old high school student 10 times. Besides being in a coma for two days and being admitted to the intensive care unit for three days, Walker, who was struck in his legs and torso, also had to undergo several surgeries and learn how to walk again, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
The teen, however, managed to keep up with his final year at The Mathematics, Civics, and Sciences Charter School of Philadelphia during his recovery. Though he eventually graduated in May, the school’s founder and her board members barred him from attending the prom and graduation ceremonies after they became aware the shooter had targeted Walker.
The board members and the founder, Veronica Joyner, explained they decided to ban him from attending in-person schooling or events because they were concerned the suspects would come after Walker again and he posed a threat.
“If you’re a target, do I bring that target around other people and get them caught up in a shooting?” Joyner questioned. “We would be placing others at risk by having him around.”
However, Walker said that though the alleged gunman, Micah Roane, was from his neighborhood, he never had any conversation with him and couldn’t tell why the suspect attacked him, per The Philadelphia Inquirer.
“Maybe he was looking for someone with the same hoodie as me, or the same backpack as me,” Walker said. “I just know me and this guy never had no conversation, no argument, no bad blood, no fight over no girl, nothing.”
Walker also said the decision by the school officials made him feel like he was to blame for the shooting. “I was the victim, and I felt like I was the problem,” he said. “It made me feel like I’m nothing, like I deserve nothing,” he also added.
The head of the Police Department’s nonfatal shooting unit, Capt. James Kearney, said that though the shooting was targeted, they could not establish the motive behind the attack. Kearney also said Walker had not gotten into any kind of trouble whatsoever. “He seemed like a good kid,” the Captain added.
Jane Roh, spokesperson for the District Attorney’s Office, also said there “is no information that indicates the victim is involved in any criminal activity.” “Regardless, there’s no reason we could justify what happened to him,” Roh added.
“It’s an unacceptable, outrageous act of violence, and it’s a tragedy. And there’s no reason any institution should be treating him like he is also a defendant.”
Despite the aforementioned statements, Joyner was still adamant she made the right decision. “I’m looking at the violence in this city and making a decision not to place everyone at risk,” she said. “It’s a safety issue. The only thing I could do was protect everyone else.”
She also said the teen should be thankful he eventually graduated. “We didn’t let him drop out. He received a computer and the teachers were instructed to work with him through the hospitalization,” she said. “I’m handing him a diploma, a lifeline, and that’s where the focus should be. … I have put him on the side to go to college, get a good job. He now has a ticket.” “It’s not a requirement that I provide him with a graduation or prom. It’s a privilege.”
In the wake of the shooting, Walker’s friends allegedly told him that Joyner had questioned how the teen managed to own a designer backpack and shoes, as well as purchase an expensive prom suit. He told The Philadelphia Inquirer that he feels Joyner was suggesting he was either involved in the drug business or doing crime. His mother also said that wasn’t the case.
Though Joyner denied the allegation, she raised eyebrows about the costly suit. “Where does it come from? You live in North Philadelphia,” she said.
Walker said his inability to attend the school events has exacerbated his condition. However, the suspect who shot him faces a slew of charges including attempted murder and illegal gun possession.