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Florence shooting: A survivor's account

May 10, 2007 |  2:26 pm

(The following is one victim's description of yesterday's homicide in Florence, which killed a 34-year-old man and wounded three others. See first entry)

The first shot sounded very close. Sidney McFarland happened to have his eyes on his friend Carl Dixon. They had just begun a conversation.

He saw Dixon's chest jump, as though he'd been shocked. Then came another loud shot. Dixon's body jolted a second time, jerking upward, then falling forward toward McFarland.

Sidney_2Leg_bandages McFarland saw people running toward the house. They had been sitting outside, a group of them, friends and cousins, drinking and talking. Next to McFarland was a 3-month-old baby in a baby seat--his cousin's infant son.

The first two shots were followed by a barrage. "Rap rap rap!" Over and over. McFarland got the baby in the baby seat on the ground. He covered the child with his body, and scooted him along the ground under his torso, according to his account, and those of other people nearby.

The baby was crying. The shots kept coming. McFarland scooted and scooted, inching along. They reached a wall. He curled over the baby, pushing him against the wall and squeezing him tight. Then he shut his eyes, and waited. The rap-rap-rap continued. McFarland's heart raced. The baby cried and cried. McFarland felt a light peppering on his body. He thought it was debris falling.

At last, the guns went quiet. People began screaming. McFarland lifted himself. He looked at the baby. The baby had stopped crying, and gazed back at him silently. McFarland jumped up. He saw Dixon lying face-down on the ground. He ran past him to the house. He leaped up the steps, ran into the kitchen, and picked up the phone. He called 911. Then he looked down at his legs.

There were bullet wounds in his ankles, calves, and up his thighs. Distractedly, McFarland hung up the phone. He started to count the wounds--"one, two, three, four...damn!" He counted six wounds in one leg. One bullet had lodged to the side of his kneecap, a hard round lump beneath the skin.

He turned to his other leg, and started counting. A wound, another and another. He lost count. Suddenly, he felt pain. He sat down abruptly, and realized he couldn't get up.

Two other victims were struck by bullets and survived--the baby's mother, and a friend, who was hospitalized in critical condition. Dixon was transported to a hospital, where he died.

McFarland, 31, was still not walking the next morning. He had bandages up and down both legs, a bloodstream full of morphine, and a face full of pain. He was trying to figure out walking with crutches, dragging both legs, unable to put his weight on either. It was the fourth time in his life that he has been shot.