Hazel Park Man Recovering from Multiple Gunshots Shares Story

Hazel Park Man Recovering from Multiple Gunshots Shares Story

(Crystal A. Proxmire, Nov. 17, 2015)

Jason S. did not think he was being a hero when he tried to stop two armed robbers at the Starting Gate Sports Lounge in Hazel Park on Nov. 10. He was really only thinking of his mother and elderly grandmother. And as he lies in a hospital bed struggling with the physical and emotional agony left by the three bullets that tore into his body, he takes some comfort in the thought that he did the right thing.

He was shot by one of two armed robbers who stormed into the bar unexpectedly, cleaned out the register and then decided to rob the customers. Now the 41-year-old construction worker and hockey enthusiast wonders if he will ever be able to walk again.

“It was a Tuesday night and the Red Wings were on. I don’t have cable, so I go to my favorite neighborhood bar. I’m having a couple beers, watching the game, talking to people I knew, when these two guys come storming in the front door saying ‘This is a holdup.’ I think everyone was just as shocked as I was,” Jason said.

“I thought ‘Okay, he’s not playing around. He’s got a gun, and he’s holding it on patrons.’ His buddy gets the money out of the register then he takes a swing at it, trying to knock it to the floor like he’s trying to be violent.

“He says, ‘Let’s see if the customers are broke.’

“And the other guy says ‘I don’t think they are.’ And he starts to go down the line robbing the customers.

“My good buddy was the first one. He was standing to my left. When the guy got between my buddy and I, I gave him the money I had, but I wouldn’t give him my wallet and my keys. I told him he had the money from the register and to just go.”

Jason said his wallet had information in it about his mother and his grandmother, and his key ring would have given them access to both of their homes. He was not going to let that happen. “People keep saying I was trying to be a hero. It wasn’t like that. I didn’t care about the money. I gave them what I had. But two guys with guns and access to a little old lady’s house? No. I could not let that happen. I kept telling him he needed to leave. Take what you got and leave.”

The robber was undeterred, so Jason grabbed him in a bear hug and held him as a shield as the other robber approached.

“I knew the other guy was coming and I’d hoped someone would have had the fortitude to do something, hit his arm, cold clock him from the side, something. But everyone was just frozen.

“I took the one guy to the ground and he squirmed to the side so there was a clear shot of this area,” he said, swiping his hand up and down the side of his abdomen.

“His buddy got close and shot three times.”

Jason said he looked down and watched a bullet go through his leg and come out the other side, with his clothing and skin opening up in slow motion just like in the movies, and he watched the blood spread into the cotton of his jeans.

Two bullets ripped into his abdomen. One made its way through his intestines, and the other went downward, shattering his pelvis. His ears rang from the loudness of the gun going off so close and inside the building. But he could hear the crying and the screams of other patrons as he laid on the floor waiting for EMS to come.

“It freaked them out enough to take off, but not enough to stop their spree,” he said. “They left Starting Gate and held up two more places in Warren.”

When asked about the robbers, Jason said they were wearing hoods but he did see the face of one. “They were young,” he said. “Maybe 20. Not professionals. Like they were kids who’d watched too many movies or listened to too much gangster rap. Trying to be bad asses.

“Now they’re going to face some years [in prison]… I can’t say I feel sorry for them. I hate to see anybody get locked up. Especially someone so young, when they could have a future. But they ruined me. They ruined my life. They’ll be out at some point, but I will be dealing with this every day for the rest of my life.”

He said the EMS came quickly, and he’s been in the hospital ever since. Two of the bullets remain inside him because it’s safer to leave them in than remove them. “I’m never going to be the same,” he said. “The doctors said I may be able to walk again but it won’t be the same. I won’t be able to just go out and walk five miles, or play hockey again.”

If he could say anything to the man who shot him, it would be “You’re not a badass. Being able to wave a gun at innocent people does not make you a tough guy. That takes no guts at all. You wanna be a badass go to the MMA or the UFA. I know there is aggression, but that’s what we have sports for. Join a team. Get a job. But don’t go around doing stuff like this. For what? You ruined somebody’s life. What did you get? A hundred bucks? Some years locked up?”

He said the men may have been captured during another crime, but Hazel Park Police as of Tuesday afternoon said there are no updates, and they cannot comment on the case as it is still under investigation. No one has yet been charged in the robbery and shooting.

The robbery also has had Jason thinking about his own gun.

“I’m a CPL holder, but in Michigan bars are pistol-free zones. Which makes sense. People get drunk and fight and you don’t want those people pulling guns. But on the other hand, if I was armed, this would have gone a lot differently. That crime spree would have stopped right there,” he said.

“There is a bill in the legislature to change this, and I’m a big proponent of carrying. People have a right to defend themselves. I wish I would have had mine. I would have stopped them.”

The shooting has left Jason with serious injuries, the recurring image of that night, and fear. There is trauma. There is pain. There is the frustration of being stuck in a hospital bed with little ability to move. And there is also worry about the cost.

Prior to the shooting, Jason had been doing construction work. But because the company was paying him as an independent contractor, and not as an employee, he will likely not qualify for unemployment.

He does not have health insurance.

The Hazel Park community, where Jason has lived most of his life, is rallying behind him. A friend set up a GoFundMe page to help raise money for expenses. Thus far nearly about $1,700 has been raised.

“I am online and I do see all the support and encouragement. It means a lot to me,” he said. He wishes he could be home.

His biggest comfort however, is knowing that his mother and grandmother are safe. “I won’t ever be the same again, but hopefully it stopped something much worse from happening to them.”

For more on the GoFundMe effort, go to https://www.gofundme.com/9cackmsc.

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Previous story: http://oaklandcounty115.com/2015/11/11/customer-shot-in-robbery-at-starting-gate-in-hazel-park/

Note: The victim’s last name has been removed at his attorney’s request on Nov. 20, 2015.

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