ATLANTA — A University of South Carolina freshman who was paralyzed in a Five Points shooting is expected to spend Christmas at home.
Doctors at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, where Martha Childress, 18, has been undergoing rehabilitation for a spinal cord injury, said they are pleased with her progress.
“We are thrilled with not only the progress Martha has made since she has been with us, but also with how she has adjusted to this devastating injury,” Dr. Anna Elmers, her physician at Shepherd Center, said in a news release Wednesday. “She always has a smile when I see her, even when she is in pain.”
Childress, who is from Simpsonville, said she plans to take online classes from home beginning in January and then return to USC for the fall 2014 semester.
“I’m beyond thankful to be alive,” Childress said. “I cannot believe the outpouring of support and prayers from those not only in South Carolina, but around the country as well. I am thankful for my treatment team at Shepherd Center for teaching me how to live again. I am also thankful to those who have constantly kept me in their thoughts.
“I can’t wait to get back to my life and live as normally as possible.”
Childress was waiting with a friend to catch a taxi back to the USC main campus when she was hit by a stray bullet police allege was fired by 20-year-old Michael Juan Smith during an argument with some acquaintances about 30 yards away, police said.
Smith faces various state charges, including attempted murder, in connection with the Oct. 13 shooting. He also faces a federal gun charge.
A pretrial conference on the federal gun charge will be held Dec. 19. in U.S. District Court in Columbia. Jury selection is scheduled for Jan. 7 but a trial date has not been set.
He was indicted in November by a Richland County grand jury on the state charges.
Smith remains in the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center where he is being held without bond.
Childress’ shooting served as a call of alarm to public safety in Five Points after 11 shootings were reported in three years. USC president Harris Pastides declared the area unsafe after midnight and warned students about their safety in the area. Merchants, students and others who frequent the entertainment district demanded that police stop the violence.
Reach Phillips at (803) 771-8307.