Terry Smith was sitting in his car in New Orleans during break from work on March 24, when the unthinkable happened. He was shot by a stranger 18 times.
The first thing Smith remembers was the sound of breaking glass.
“I was sitting in the car, taking a break from work and the glass shattered,” he recalled during an interview with WWLTV.
Before Smith could react, he felt himself being hit by bullets.
“When I looked up, I just saw somebody standing out there with a gun,” he said. “It’s like he was shooting to kill, basically. And I’ve never seen this guy in my life.”
According to reports, the shooter was 25-year-old Kwane Brown, who was making one last random stop during a three-state crime spree after shooting a woman in Georgia, robbing a gas station in Alabama, then parking in the French Quarter with a Glock 9mm.
The gun held 18 bullets and every single one hit Smith.
He was confused, bleeding, but completely aware of what had just happened.
“I knew I was shot a lot of times. I just was wondering, Why? Like, why?” he asked. “It was blood everywhere.”
Smith’s survival instincts kicked in, “That’s the first initial thing I thought about, just driving off. Just getting away,” he said.
Smith, 34, drove a full eight blocks from the shooting scene. He saw a group of hotel workers and he calmly got out of his car to ask for help.
“I ran in there and I was like, Can y’all help me? I’ve just been shot. Everybody was running around going crazy. I was just standing around, like, oh man, I’m messing up these people’s hotel.”
“I had blood all over their floor and stuff,” he recalled.
As Smith waited for an ambulance, he thought about his fiancée and two children, a 14-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son. “I can’t die. That’s the only thing. I can’t die. I got kids. I can’t die.”
Smith was taken to University Medical Center, and a medical team swarmed over him. UMC’s trauma center reportedly treats more gunshot casualties than most emergency rooms in the country.
“You look at him and you see blood everywhere, holes too numerous to count, and your first thought is: he’s dying, and we’ll be in surgery in the next five minutes,” said Dr. Lance Stuke, an LSU trauma surgeon at UMC.
Stuke and the rest of the team counted the bullet holes and were stunned.
“Eighteen individual wounds is among the highest I’ve ever seen,” Stuke said.
Smith was awake and alert through it all. So much so that he asked the doctors questions about what was going on.
“While they were looking around I was asking them, ‘Am I OK? Where did I get shot?’ I was asking them. I was trying to figure out what was going on myself.”
Though Smith was shot three times in the head, once in the face, multiple times in the chest and both arms, the bullets did not damage any major organs or blood vessels.
“I remember thinking he needs to leave here and go the casino, because he’s incredibly fortunate,” Stuke said.
Smith’s most serious injury was a broken forearm that required a metal plate. He was released from the hospital after two days.
Smith’s first phone call after being given the all clear by doctors, was to his boss. He returned to his job in the French Quarter last week.