Reichard: "I don't see myself as a victim. I try not to think about it at all."
PAINTBALL ATTACK

Reichard: "I don't see myself as a victim. I try not to think about it at all."

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Shelby Reichard and her boyfriend don't walk to the bars in Davenport's East Village anymore.

The couple's decision to end their tradition has nothing to do with recent frigid after-dark temperatures. Exactly two weeks after a Nov. 1 paintball attack left her with a serious eye injury, Reichard is dealing with the challenges of physical recovery and the psychological trauma left by the shooting.

Two 16-year-olds were arrested Tuesday, Nov. 12 and were charged with willful injury causing serious injury and willful injury with bodily injury in the paintball attack. Those arrests haven't changed the reality Reichard faces.

"We don't walk at night anymore. That's out," said the 30-year-old, who suffered what is expected to be permanent retina damage in her right eye.

The attack came near the intersection of Middle and Jersey Ridge roads.

"Walking down into the East Village was something we enjoyed doing and I always felt safe," Reichard said. "Honestly, I don't think we ever really thought about it much."

Since the attack Reichard has focused on working with doctors on what will be a long recovery. She still has extremely blurred vision in her right eye, struggling to work and complete tasks that once were simple.

And a new kind of anxiety has crept into her life.

"I'm not afraid in my home. I don't think I have a high level of fear," Reichard explained. "But what I have noticed is that when I've been out in public places I have a level of anxiety that I haven't experienced before.

"I've noticed that I'm very anxious about the other people in the room, and I find myself looking around. I've noticed that I'm struggling to stay in conversations in public, it's like I want to move away and be by myself."

While dealing with the anxiety issues, Reichard has worked hard to not play the "what-if game."

"That was right after the attack," Reichard said. "I'm sitting there in the emergency room and I started saying 'What if we'd just left 10 minutes earlier.' And then I was saying 'If we'd just left 10 minutes later this would have never happened.'

"That was really making things hard. I've just come down to the fact that we were in the wrong place at the wrong time and some thoughtless people did this for really no reason at all. There are times when that's tough to live with right now."

Reichard also is left with a confusing feeling that maybe she should count herself as "lucky."

"It started to hit me after I got home from the hospital and had some time to rest and get over the shock," she said. "I started thinking about the shootings in town — there are people who've been shot by real bullets. There are shots fired all the time.

'I started thinking about how if that paintball had been a bullet, I'd be dead. I wouldn't be here. There would be nothing. So then you're in this place where you almost feel like, well, I sure was lucky that wasn't a bullet they shot at me. It's weird to feel like you were lucky to be shot in the eye with a paintball and not shot in the eye with a real bullet."

Reichard tried to explain how she feels about being seen as a victim in a crime story.

"I don't think of myself in that way. I honestly don't see myself as a victim. I try not to think much about it at all. I don't really want to think about the whole situation," Reichard's voice waived for just a moment. When she spoke again, she was assertive.

"I'm working with my doctors to get better. I can't dwell on what happened to me. When those kids were arrested, I didn't feel much of anything about me. There is nothing I can do to them that will undo what they did to me. I was just hopeful that the police can catch all of them. I'm hoping this doesn't happen again. I'm hoping other people will be a little safer when they want to do something like take a walk."

Some friends of Reichard will have a benefit to help her defray medical expenses. The auction and gathering of friends will be held from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, Nov. 22, at McButt's Neighborhood Bar, 1516 N. Harrison St.

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