LIBERTY TWP., Ohio (WKBN) – Twenty-year-old Zachary Woods is speaking out after being shot at a traffic light in Liberty in June.
On June 11, Zachary was shot in the face in broad daylight, leaving him permanently blind. But he says he still finds a way to maintain positivity every single day.
“You got to be positive. Can’t be down, sad — because life goes on so life can go on. You might as well just live it the best way you can,” he says.
Zachary’s mother, Natisha Lee, says she’s taken things day by day in the three months since her son was shot.
He was rushed to St. Elizabeth Health Center before being taken to a hospital in Cleveland just hours later. He had major surgery and had to re-learn almost everything after.
“His first movement was a miracle,” says Natisha.
She says she and her son still don’t understand why he was shot that day and had never met the suspect, 55-year-old Kevin Mallard.
Natisha begs people to have patience before permanently changing someone’s life.
“Let’s try to understand people before we make a decision that would weaken somebody else’s life for something they had nothing to do with,” she says.
Zachary says he was working toward his dream of supporting his mother and family with a music career when everything changed.
With his family’s support, he’s learning how to do more on his own.
“It’s a lot, but it’s something I could deal with, something I could push through for sure,” says Zachary.
Ziah Lowery, one of Zach’s friends, was at a restaurant across the street the day of the shooting when her friend pointed out his car.
She’s always known him as a supportive and kind person.
“He’s caring. He’s showed love to everybody,” Lowery says. “You could ask him for anything – and it’s still the same way.”
Lowery helped Natisha start a Facebook page, Rage to Blind Awareness, in his honor.
Natisha says since the shooting, they’ve been searching for a woman who helped get Zachary to the hospital, who Natisha believes to be the reason Zachary is still here today.
“I just want to give you a hug – squeeze you so tight and tell you how much I appreciate you,” says Natisha.
Zachary says he’s extremely grateful to all his family and friends who have supported him.
As for his future?
He wants to go back to pursuing his passion for making music while he keeps learning how to navigate daily life. Natisha says she will use Rage to Blind Awareness to support mental health treatments and advocate for disabilities.