Brandon Township Shooting Survivor Shares Story
(Crystal A. Proxmire, Nov. 14, 2018)
Brandon Township, MI – In Nov. 2107, 34 year old Stephanie Walls was shot in the back of the head by her estranged husband Michael Joseph Quigley. Quigley also shot a friend of Wall’s in the eye after forcing his way into a Brandon Township apartment.
In September Quigley pled no contest to two counts of assault with intent, one count breaking and entering, and several weapons charges. His earliest release date is 2034, maximum discharge date of 2079. Walls had a friend read her Victim Impact Statement to the Judge while she looked intently at the face of the man who had tried to take her life.
Walls shared her story on social media this week in hopes of inspiring other people to persevere life’s challenges, and to encourage women who are being abused to seek help.
Here is Walls’ statement, with minor corrections for spelling and grammar:
“Thank you your Honor and the people of the court for letting me share a tiny portion of my horrific story.
“This is one of the hardest things I have ever had to do and I thank God that I survived the violence bestowed upon me to be able to talk to you today. Even more thankful that I survived for my beautiful children.
“There was a knock at the door….. I open It! Michael busted his way through, I am unable to fight the door shut. I look down, his construction boot is jammed at the bottom of the door. He grabs for my throat I move out of the way. He grabs for me again this time putting his arm around me like he was going to hug me around the neck, he looks at me directly in the eyes and mouthed I’m sorry…. with a pained look in his face.
“Bang! My body drops to the floor I have lost all control of it. It feels on fire I smell sulfur and a zapping feeling, I thought oh my god why is he tasing me. I finally gain control of my body again I got back up screaming at him. With every scream I see something out of the corner of my eye, I hear something in my head like gushing. I put my hand up to the side of my head and pull it away to look. Oh my god he shot me. Blood is squirting out of my head!
“I don’t feel so well,weak….I drop to my knees and I crawl to the coffee table where my phone lays. I reached for it crying…. thinking how I need to call my mom she is going to be so worried. A hand clasps around mine that was holding the phone. Slam! My knuckles slam so hard onto the rock surface coffee table. Oh my god that hurt. A monster voice screams in my ear “NO!” He takes my phone from me.
“I get thrown to the floor by this man, already shot and blood squirting out of my head. His teeth showing at me like a rabid dog, spit flying everywhere as he was telling me how disgusting I made him. When my body hit the floor he got over top of me and slammed the gun into my head a second time as hard as he could saying “And now you’re going to die bitch!” Click, the gun trigger was pulled again. Nothing happened. I was still alive. He tried to finish me off!
“I lay there crying, tingling, and cold all over. So scared he was going after the children. Knowing I was going to die. I am thinking how I didn’t get to tell my mom I loved her yet tonight. My children are home waiting for me to return, I may never see them again. What will happen to them? At this moment all I wanted to do was get to my children. I couldn’t. The life was slowly leaving my body. I could feel it. I could hardly hold my eyes open. My nose and lips started feeling numb no feeling in my fingertips. Hurting so bad but yet not feeling. So sick, so unbelievable sick.
“Serenity! She’s standing in the hall looking at me with so much fear her little hands to her mouth so scared. I reach my hands up and call for her to come to me. She starts to and decides to run away and go to her daddy’s room and hide. I cry this poor sweet babygirl. She didn’t deserve this.
“Ryan’s on the phone talking to 911 I hear him say “you got to get here fast she’s fading. Her eyes are rolling in the back of her head.” I ask “him to come to me.” I see he’s holding his face with a towel. I ask him to move it and when he does the blood pours off of his face onto mine into my eyes. I tell him I am so sorry. I can’t believe any of this is even happening! Michael shot Ryan!
“The door gets kicked in by the squat team. All of them in black uniforms faces covered, huge guns drawn, screaming “GET DOWN! SHOW YOUR HANDS!” They were headed towards Ryan stepping over my body like I wasn’t even there. It was complete chaos and so scary! So unbelievably scary! I thought they were going to kill Ryan. Poor Ryan he didn’t deserve this. If Ryan dies who will take care of that sweet babygirl Serenity? She’s only 2 years old.
“The paramedics are over me I can barely hold my eyes open. Every time I did the room spun. It made me want to puke. I was so sick to my stomach. They strap my body to a board and run with me to the ambulance. The cold November air hits my body. It hurts when it touched my already very cold tingling numb body.
“My body jerked side to side, back and forth as the ambulance rushed at max speed. It hurt! Every movement hurt! Everything hurt! The pain was ungodly. Metal touched my skin and I heard ripping of my cloths. Within seconds I was completely naked, vulnerable, so embarrassed but no strength to try to hide myself. My life was in their hands. But I knew at this point death was very close. I managed to open my eyes and look at the man above me. I said “I am dying please tell my mom and kids I love them so much.” Then everything faded out got so very far away. Death had arrived. There was nothing…..
“BAM! Lights on… yellow! Everything was so yellow.. people yelling. So much yelling! So much noise! The yelling didn’t stop. It became clear what was being said. Stay with us Stephanie don’t fall back asleep! Stay with us! I start puking. The puke spews out of me into my eyes I try to move my head in runs down the sides of my face on to my neck and over my ears. I lose conscious again…
“I am suddenly awaken! Someone’s pulling a tube out of my throat The puking starts again. There’s a man standing next to my bed. I can’t really see. I can kinda hear him. He asks “How do you feel Stephanie?” “ Sick very sick.” I reply barely. “Don’t worry you won’t feel anything here soon.” Nothing again…..
“I have no idea how much time has passed.
“My eyes slowly open…. beep beep beep… where am I? Ugh I don’t feel good! I open my eyes so many people around me. I realize I know them. My mom, my Dad, my brother, my sister in law. It hits me like a ton of bricks. Michael Quigley the man I was with for 20 years tried to murder me! Whoa I hurt! I try to move I can’t. My mother rushes to my side. She starts to pet my head. “I love you sweetie. We are here! You are alive and safe now. He can’t hurt you anymore.” My mom’s hand feels so good. I think in my head. I love you mom! I cry, so grateful to be alive
“I am so worried about Ryan. Did he die? Is he alive? The nurses assure me he is okay and bring him to my bedside. I tell him how sorry I am, and that I didn’t mean for this to happen. My head feels like it was hit so hard. The nurses give me more medication. I fall asleep…..
“I awaken I realize two hands are in mine… I look side to side. My brother on my left, my sister in-law at my right, both with their heads down sleeping at the side of my bed. The feel of their hands are so warm, soft, loving, comforting… I wonder is there still a possibility I will die? I cry…. I want to see my children.
“I wake to my mother is standing at the head of my bed holding a pink tub. I hear ripping and a tugging at my head… I realize a nurse is here. My mother and nurse are washing my hair and brushing it. I hear the nurse say “there is so much blood.” I open my eyes and look at my mom. Tears and pain in her face. I think I am so sorry Mom. I didn’t mean for you to go through this…. I moan the pain and the horrible nausea is back. The nurse gets up and gives me more pain & nausea medication. I fall asleep…..
“I awaken to my mother softly waking me. “Honey, wake up… the kids are here to see you.” I open my eyes. I look left at the door there they are standing there. They look scared. Hunter does his little nervous fidget. But staying strong. Sean’s face breaks out in those red blotches he gets when he fights from crying. I raise my arms and ask them “to come to me” they hug me I cry. They smell so good. My babies! I am hugging my babies! I cry and have over whelming emotions. I am actually alive to be with my babies. I think to myself why would their father try to kill me and leave our children with no one? (I get worked up and the pain hits me so hard! Ugh my head! ) The energy just completely drains out of me. I am given more medication. And with more pain medication comes more sleep. I don’t remember them leaving I don’t remember falling asleep.
“I am unsure of how much time has passed when I was in the NICU but I am finally unhooked from the compression (IPC) devices they have on my legs and the blood pressure cuff. It checked my blood pressure so much my skin is raw and I am bruised all around my arm. I am taken down to critical care. That is when I realize I can’t see straight. I have to close my eyes the entire wheel chair ride down to my room.
“I am in my room, they want to start me on solid foods. Only to discover I can’t swallow very good. It scares the living daylights out of me. I thought I was going to choke to death. They have to give me a cat scan of my throat to make sure everything is working okay. I find out we just have to wait and see if it comes back. I managed to eat pureed French toast. During this time I realize I have no feeling on the right side of my tongue. I keep biting it, it keeps bleeding. And makes me cry. When I cry I realize I can’t let any tears out on the right eye. I also developed thrush! That hurt and was miserable. Not only is my tongue swollen, hurting from the thrush and biting it. I have to learn how to use the left side of my mouth. My jaw barely opens because it along with the side of my skull is fractured.
“I need to use the bathroom… my brain tells me that I can. Only to realize I can’t even do this. I get up and I almost hit the floor. I can’t stand. I have to be wheel chaired to the bathroom that’s only 10 feet way. Where I have to have help to get on the toilet. The embarrassment. While in the bathroom for the first time I get to look into the mirror. It’s at this point I realize the right side of my face is dropping. I can’t fully smile. It’s so awful looking. I cry. “Will it come back I ask? “ I am told they are not sure. I have nerve damage to the main nerve that controls that side of the facial movement. This was a horrible feeling. It was horrible to look at.
“I am coming off the strongest pain medication they have there. I start having dreams of being shot. I start falling asleep and that’s when the nightmares starts hit me. It’s awful scary I can literally feel that stinging zapping pain over and over again. The nausea, the sweating. They have to give me medication to help with this PTSD that I am dealing with. My aunt who flew in to help my mother with my care sleeps in the chair just a couple feet away. She watched me suffering from these dreams with real life physical effects. She crawls in bed with me. Rubbing my back telling me “she loves me” and comforting me to sleep. This feels so good to me. So calming.
“I haven’t had a true shower in days. I ask for one. But I can’t do any of this on my own. My mother, she’s been by my side day and night. She gets me in the bathroom has to help me undress and get in the shower where I have to sit on a shower seat and support myself with a shower bar. I can’t even stand to shower. I have no strength to even raise my arms above my head. She gives me the shower I so badly wanted. The slightest touch to my head hurts so bad. But the water is so refreshing. Being completely helpless and having to rely on everyone to do the simplest task is one of the hardest things to go through. I wanted to cry every time. But was so grateful I had my family there to help me.
“I manage to get myself walking with a walker. The deal was when I can walk by myself I can leave the hospital. I had a goal. I did mange to get myself to the point of using a walker. They called in the rehabilitation team. They came and assessed me. I thought I might be able to go home. But after one of the women made me walk as far down the hallway as I could I realized I wasn’t ready to go home. I broke down sobbing. I just wanted to get home to my children and my own bed. I couldn’t stand more than a minute or two. I lost my balance just trying to walk. My vision was so distorted. It would turn my stomach. I would be out of breath only after 10 steps. This was such a hard thing to come to terms with.
“I am sent down to the rehabilitation unit, where I spend every day on a schedule to regain my strength, balance, coming off the medication, and regaining my independence. My mother stays by my side every day and night. She crawls into bed with me holding me on the nights I am crying and or having the awful flash backs. I am so lucky to have a mother like her.
“Thanksgiving comes, I am still in the hospital. My parents bring the children up to see me. I am in physical therapy when they arrive. I see them and I try so hard not to cry. But I break down so bad so hard. I miss them so much. They crowded around me and just hugged me and cried with me. Chase looks into my face so scared, unsure whether to come to me. His mother’s face doesn’t looks the same. The right side has lost all function and is hanging. Imagine how disturbing that is to a child?
“The children have been in the care of a family they never met before for 3 weeks. Luckily this family was amazing and provided for the children just like they were their own. Had it not been for them and my Mother and father my children would have been put in foster care. Child protective services had to become involved in our family. Because of Micheal’s actions and putting Ryan’s daughters life in such danger. Never in my life would I have ever thought CPS would have been involved in our life. But this became a blessing for our family and the women were amazing to the children and I.
“The day came that it was time to go home. I still had distorted vision, no use of the right side of my face, no hearing, and my balance was so off I had to use things to support my walking. But I was strong enough to go home and finish out my recover. Car rides were hell for months. I never could look up or out the windows. I had to look down at my lap. The movement was not only too much for my brain to be able to process but the movement made me so sick. I also had to have glasses on basically at all times. My right eye was so sensitive to bright lights it would hurt not only my eye but the right-side of my brain as well.
“Going home actually meant all the children and I moving into my mother’s 3 bedroom home. I lost everything. We lost our home, vehicle, income because I could no longer work. Had it not been for my dear friends Holly & Ashley I would not have gotten a single item from our home. I had no strength to move. Plus it was the dead of winter. But these women made it happen. And with the help of Emily her husband and Ryan I managed to keep some items.
“Once at my mothers I lay in bed day in and day out sleeping for hours at a time. I was told by doctors this would happen. Between the pain medication and the neurons having to repair themselves it takes a lot of sleep for a traumatic brain injury like I was suffering from. The children just in the next room keeping a watchful eye on me. Kayla laying with me every night snuggled up next to me caressing my head when bad dreams happen or accidentally break down crying telling me “It’s okay Mom. I love you. Let’s watch tv.” These amazing children took care of me bringing there mama food and water while I was trying to recover.
“While recovering I notice something starts leaking from my ear. I schedule a doctor’s appointment. There I find out that I have a CSF leak. A fragment from the bullet had just pierced the membrane that holds the fluid in around the brain. The fluid from my brain was leaking out of my ear. I also learned that all my inner ear was completely shattered and had to be removed.
The team of doctors decided a surgery needed to be scheduled and immediately to seal the hole to my brain to prevent infection. On January 4th I find myself at a hospital again. They are preforming a CSF leak seal, placing gold above my eyelid to help it close, removing all inter ear shattered bone, putting a Cochlear Baha system into my skull. If you are unfamiliar with what this is. It is where they drill into your skull and place a metal screw like piece into my hearing bone, so a hearing aid (BAHA device) can snap on so I can hear what is going on the right side of my ear through the left side. Once the doctor got in there to perform the surgery, he ended up removing 4 bullet fragments from my head. One the size of my pinkie, which was laying right against the main part of the facial nerve. He tried to decompress the nerve and we were hopefully that it would come back. But I have not been so lucky and this facial nerve will require another surgery that my insurance will not cover. My right side of my face is now paralyzed. I still have bullet fragments embed into my Temporal bone and they can never be removed. I suffer from headaches and horrible dreams where I relive nightly. I relive actually being shot. I can feel the pain and sickness and then my body become completely soaked in sweat. The PTSD is very real.
“The financial toll it took on my parents have set them back tremendously. My mother took 3 months off of work to care for me. We moved in to their home and they had to pay for all of our needs. That was 5 extra people very unexpectedly. My father also took many weeks of not a month’s worth of work off.
“The emotional/financial stress he put on my family is awful. My children can’t even stand hearing their last name. They do not refer to this man as their father. They call him “That guy.” I said to my son Sean one night “sheesh your feet look just like your dads.” He got so angry at me. And said to me “he never wants to look anything like that guy. He hates that he’s even his dad.” Chase tells me often “Mom I am so glad he didn’t kill you. You are the best mom on the world. He’s a bad guy.” Hunter can’t stop hugging me and telling me “I love you so much mom” It’s constant. I told the children one night “I am so sorry that this all has happened to you and you don’t have your father.” The response I got was, “nothings different Mom. He was never around anyway, And when he was all he did was yell at us and never even really talked to us.”
“I have to say since he’s out of the picture the children are so much more happy, and so am I. I am no longer being manipulated, having mind games played on me, or lied too, or having to ask what drugs he is on today? Life is so much more stress free and happy. Boy does this prove that you never cared about these children ever. They were just a pawn in your game.
“The public humiliations has been awful. To be associated with a man that would do something this horrific is so embarrassing. Still till this day the embarrassment doesn’t stop due to his family lashing out at me via social media and constantly reaching out to people to ruin mine and the children’s lives. I didn’t think his family would be so upset I didn’t die. I can honestly say I wish I would have never got myself involved with a family like this one.
“I’m asking you today, not only for me, but the safety of both me and my children to please give Michael Joseph Quigley the maximum sentence allowed by the Court of Law. I am in fear that he will once again attempt to finish what he intended to do once he is released from Prison. I believe this man, sitting before you is capable of greater harm.”
Walls continues to recover, and has moved on to a new relationship. There are challenges to that, including trust. But she continues to face life with an open heart.
“I value every moment I have,” Walls said. “Things that I thought were bad just are not. We only have this one life and then it’s done. Take the time to enjoy that beautiful blue sky, slight breeze, and the sun beating on your face. Hug those that are close and dear to you. And those that are not so kind you must let them go! Everyone has a path to walk in life. Not everyone is meant to stay. They truly are not. Sometimes you can’t save someone from themselves and they have to fall and learn. That’s their path.
“Always remember no one owns you and you don’t own anyone. Control is not a relationship. This is your life to live. Your partner has there life. Live it together as a team. If your not happy and having joy together. Then move on. Life’s to short. You never know when your time is going to come. Use your heart and be nice to the person next to you. You just never know what they are going through.”
When asked about her friend’s healing, Wall said “The fragments are still in his nasal area and behind his eye. He suffers from headaches. But can see great and doing great in life and fatherhood.”
“I am hoping my story reaches the right people to help them. I hope one day I can go and speak to groups and help others,” Walls said. In the meantime she continues to rebuild her life and focus on her family.
Victims of abuse can reach out to local authorities and to HAVEN. Lean more about HAVEN at https://www.haven-oakland.org/
Oakland Livingston Human Service Agency (OLHSA) has a list of resources for families at http://www.olhsa.org/family-resources