INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Nov. 19, 2014) - More than nine months after doctors said 14-year-old DeAndre Knox probably wouldn't survive a gunshot wound to the head, the teen is making remarkable strides in his recovery.
"Just yesterday, they emailed me and said he stood for 15 minutes," said DeAndre's mom, DeAndra Yates. "About two weeks ago he stood for seven minutes and that was the first time in nine months."
Fifteen minutes of standing with the help of medical staff at a rehab facility in Illinois is seen as a major step forward in DeAndre's recovery. He has also started re-learning how to take bites of food. While he can't talk yet, he is vocalizing responses and recognizing family members.
"He gets excited and his eyes get big when we walk in the room," Yates said.
The progress is a long way from where DeAndre was on the night of February 1, when somebody fired gunshots into a house in the 3400 block of Aylesford Lane, on the city's northwest side. DeAndre was one of dozens of teens attending a 15-year old's birthday party which had been promoted on social media. A bullet went into the house and hit DeAndre in the back left side of his head.
In the first few days after the shooting, DeAndra says doctors painted a grim picture. At one point, she says she was encouraged to take her son off life support to spare him suffering.
But then, something happened.
"After about the 5th day, he opened his eyes," Yates said. "And to me that was him saying 'Mom, fight for me.'"
The fight has been long, and it will get longer. DeAndra and her family have watched her son change from week to week and month to month.
"This all had to be removed." Yates said, pointing to the back of her head. "They took the skull completely out. So for five and a half months, he didn't have a skull."
Nobody really knows how full DeAndre's recovery will eventually be. But, Yates and her family believe he will continue to surprise people by beating the odds.
While DeAndre's progress gives his family hope, there is also the underlying frustration of knowing that whoever shot him has never been found. While Yates says she tries not to be angry, she doesn't like the idea that the shooter has been able to go on living their life while her son has barely hung onto his.
DeAndre should have played football and basketball during his 8th grade year.
"They feel like they've gotten away with it, they've gotten away with other crimes," Yates said. "It's devastating to me."
She is also frustrated by the apparent lack of information given to police by other young people who were at the party. She believes parents of those young people are preventing them from coming forward to talk to police.
"There were, at minimum, 50 eye witnesses to this shooting," Yates said. "What if it was your child?"
Yates and her family members continue their public plea for witnesses to come forward. If someone is afraid to do so, she reminds them that anyone can leave anonymous tips by calling Crime Stoppers at (317) 262-TIPS.