Valdosta Daily Times

Top News

January 3, 2013

Man shot at fair living life with bullet in chest

SAVANNAH, Ga. — The .22-caliber bullet rests less than an inch and a half from Marquis Mason’s beating heart.

For him, it’s a life-altering wound from the Nov. 3 Coastal Empire Fairground shooting, which injured seven other people.

Doctors have told the Savannah 19-year-old and his family surgery to remove the bullet is too risky.

They have cautioned Mason that life with a bullet in his chest will be different.

He will have to limit the weightlifting and exercise he once enjoyed. He will need to carry a card explaining to airport security he has metal in his body. If he ever needs an MRI, there is a medical risk the magnets could shift the bullet.

Marquis doesn’t see the bullet only for its limitations. He sees it as God calling him back to the path he was meant to walk.

“After this incident, I believe God has shown me this is what you really need to be doing,” he said. “I realized I had a calling.

“I got hit in five major spots, and I survived,” he said. “Some people don’t survive one.”

Part of what he intends to do is reach out to young men his age.

He will start this week during the 23rd Annual Twelve Night Sacrifical Revival. His father, the Rev. Eric Mason, is one of the event organizers.

“We just want to get the message out that we are trying to slow down the violence as much as we can,” Marquis Mason said. “I think the main thing now, there’s a lot of kids who didn’t have the love and support of a mom and dad like I did. They think their life is over after high school, but little do they know they have things to look forward to instead of being on the street.

“If I can change just one person’s mind about that, I think I will have made a difference.”

Mason says he holds no grudge against those involved in the shooting. He is not sure he would be allowed to speak to them, but if we were, he would say that once they leave jail, they need to try to move forward in life, as he is trying to do.

In high school, he said, he had wanted to combine his parents’ careers. His mother, Sharleen Simmons, is a Chatham County Sheriff’s deputy. His father is pastor of Jesus First Christian Community Church.

Marquis Mason wanted to major in criminal justice, but also minister.

Even in high school, it sometimes set him apart.

“My friends would say, ‘Oh Mason, we’re going to run from you,’ and I would tell them, ‘You can run, but I’ll have backup.”’

By his senior year, his straight-and-narrow life was hitting a curve, he admits. Schools and athletics weren’t as important as a new girlfriend.

By May, his college plans were uncertain. He thought about following his girlfriend to her college, but ended up enrolling at Savannah Tech in August while he figured out what he wanted to do.

He was, he admits, coasting.

Normally, Mason wouldn’t have gone to the last Saturday night at the Coastal Empire fair.

Too risky, too much chance of a fight or a shooting, he and other teens knew.

Even if those problems had always happened outside the gate, why risk it, he thought.

This November, though, was different.

“I went because all my friends were going to be leaving, going back to college, and they were like, ‘Come on man, you’ve got to come.”’

They walked the fairgrounds, sharing college plans, reliving high school stories, meeting other friends and having a pretty normal night.

Mason remembers passing a cluster of police officers, and moments later, about 10:40 p.m., hearing what sounded like firecrackers.

Not firecrackers, he realized. Gunshots. Then people screaming.

He turned to see a man in a hoodie and black jeans, head cocked, gun extended, as he shot into the crowd.

“I walked like one more step and then I fell to the ground,” he said. “...when I touched my hand where I’d been hurt, I seen a whole bunch of blood on my hand, and I said, ‘Oh my God, this can’t be true.”’

Even before the shooting stopped, he remembers two officers diving over him. After the shooting, as onlookers began swarming, they pushed the crowd back.

Mason could see an injured woman nearby. He could hear someone calling his name.

He remembers the kindness of a total stranger, a woman named Skyler, letting him rest his head on her thigh as they waited for the ambulance.

The bullet hit him near the left hip. It ricocheted off the bone, forcing it up, where it ripped through the intestines, liver, colon, pancreas and the left lung.

The pain didn’t start until he was in the ambulance headed for Memorial University Medical Center. His stomach started hurting. He began coughing up blood.

His mother was working an off-duty security job at St. Joseph’s Hospital and met the ambulance.

His father, just back from a funeral in Detroit, got to Memorial by midnight.

“I think that was the scariest part,” the Rev. Mason said. “She saw him as they unloaded him, but we didn’t see Marquis again until 5:30 the next morning. So we sat in the lobby waiting that whole time.”

They were an empty time, Simmons recalls, those hours wondering whether your child would live or die.

As his mother, she is worried about the bullet still in his chest. As a law officer, she knows other people live with it, too.

“He’s not going to let that deter him from what he needs to do,” she said. “I think he realizes tomorrow is not promised, so you have to live right.”

Mason has times of difficulty. News coverage of the Sandy Hook shooting that killed 20 children and six adults was so upsetting he couldn’t watch.

He wants to reach out to the other fair shooting victims to see if they will meet.

“We went through the same thing,” he said. “We all went down the same night.”

He listens as his father shares his beliefs about what that bullet means, and he nods slightly in agreement.

“Some people call it fate,” the Rev. Mason said. “Because of who I am, I believe sometimes God will leave things in us, leave things on us, as a reminder of what we are called to do.

“We just don’t know who it’s going to wind up, but if we put our confidence and faith in God, he’s going to lead us in the path we need to be going.”

———

Information from: Savannah Morning News, http://www.savannahnow.com

 

For more on this story and other local news, subscribe to The Valdosta Daily Times e-Edition, or our print edition

1
Text Only
Top News
  • AP81072904918 copy.jpg Today in History for Tuesday, July 29, 2014

    Today is Tuesday, July 29, the 210th day of 2014. There are 155 days left in the year.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • United Way presents fundraising prom

    Save the date — and make sure to find one — for The Prom, a retro-celebration to benefit the Greater Valdosta United Way.

    July 29, 2014

  • Times hosts blood drive

    The Valdosta Daily Times will participate in a blood drive, 12:30-5:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 1, with the American Red Cross Bloodmobile visiting The Times’ 201 N. Troup St. parking lot.

    July 29, 2014

  • Free health fair planned for Quitman on Aug. 9

    A free health fair hosted by the 100 Black Men of Brooks-Grady-and-Thomas Counties, Inc. and sponsored by Archbold Hospital will take place Aug. 9  from 8 a.m.-noon. The second annual 100 B-G-T Health Fair will be located at the Courtland Avenue Church of Christ in Quitman. All Valdosta-Lowndes County residents are welcome to attend.

    July 29, 2014

  • Lake Park considers millage rate increase

    Lake Park has tentatively adopted a millage rate which will result in a 29.64 percent increase in property taxes.

    July 28, 2014

  • Free Health Fair slated for August 9th

    A free health fair hosted by the 100 Black Men of Brooks-Grady-and-Thomas Counties, Inc. and sponsored by Archbold Hospital will take place on August 9th  from 8:00am until 12 noon.

    July 28, 2014

  • BtpsXVpIgAEXKB-.jpg Manhunt underway for drivers of stolen dump truck

    This morning, around 8:00 deputies from the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office attempted to stop a dump truck traveling south on I-75.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Kingston’s loss means less clout for Ga.

    For two decades, Rep. Jack Kingston was a congressman who routinely crushed his opponents on election night — winning a new term every other year with vote totals between 63 and 77 percent.

    July 28, 2014

  • IMG_3745.jpeg Gas leak on West Adair

    A gas leak has occured on West Adair Street, between Tombs and Oak Street. The leak began just after 11 a.m.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • salmonella 2 copy.jpg Trial nears for suspects in salmonella case

    Three people accused of scheming to manufacture and ship salmonella-tainted peanuts that killed nine people, sickened more than 700 and prompted one of the largest food recalls in history are set to go to trial this week in south Georgia.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

Top News
Poll

Do you agree with the millage rate increases?

Yes. We need to maintain services
No. Services should have been cut.
     View Results