Raleigh, N.C. — A Raleigh man left paralyzed from the waist down after he was shot in the spine during a violent home invasion earlier this month is facing the challenge of recovery head-on, his co-worker said Wednesday.
"He is incredibly positive and joking. He is his same funny, sarcastic self that we all love," said Rhonda Downum, a human resources manager for Cornerstone Therapeutics.
Her co-worker, whom WRAL News is identifying only as Jason, and his wife were attacked in the middle of the night on Jan. 7 after, police say, two men broke into their home in Raleigh's historic Oakwood district.
"It's exceptionally difficult," Downum said. "We do feel like we're family members, and when something like this happened, none of us were prepared and didn't realize how to deal with this. Everyone just wanted to help immediately."
Co-workers have set up a Facebook page to get donations to help Jason, a product development manager, and his wife to help make their home and vehicles handicapped-accessible.
"It's been very difficult knowing the journey they have ahead of them," Downum said. "We want to make sure that they know we're here for them."
They're also collecting cards and notes to encourage him as he recuperates.
Jason recently took to Facebook, thanking his supporters for their help.
"Despite a bum pinkie (hurt in the incident), I'll soon be moving to a manual chair. That should make zooming around the hospital much more fun (and provide some additional exercise)," he wrote on Monday. "It's the small victories that are so meaningful – and your support that continues to move us upward."
"He does not know the word failure. He is so strong, and he truly is our hero," Downum said.
Jason's neighbors feel the same way and are hopeful for when he returns home.
"We were all shocked, and we are praying for (his and his wife's) wellbeing," Sue Tillery said. "We want them to come back and just be comfortable here, because I think this was just a random act. I really do."
Raleigh police, however, haven't said whether the attack was random, but there's no evidence that the victims knew their attackers.
Jahaad Tariem Allah Marshall, 26, and his brother, Shabar Master Marshall, 16, face numerous charges in the case, including attempted murder, first-degree burglary, first-degree kidnapping, attempted murder and first-degree forcible sex offense.