Teyonna Lofton was celebrating her high school graduation when the day took a violent turn, leaving her with a gunshot wound in her arm. Now, the college freshman has become an activist against gun violence.
Lofton graduated from Perspectives Leadership Academy in Chicago on May 31, reports CBS2 Chicago. Due to COVID-19, her family and friends decided to celebrate her achievement and virtual graduation ceremony with a carpool parade. It was after the parade that she decided to change into a gray tracksuit and go to the gas station with her friends around the corner from her house.
The celebratory day became tragic when she suddenly became one of the dozens hit with a bullet in the city amid the ongoing violence in the city.
“We were all having a very nice time, just making jokes and turned around for like a second walking up to the window to go buy something to drink really quickly. A big truck pulled up, I didn’t think nothing of it. I just started hearing so much commotion. People just screaming and I couldn’t see much,” Lofton shared in an Instagram video. “My back was turned. As I started to run, I hit the ground. I hit it so hard that my leggings had ripped. Something knocked me down, I didn’t know at the moment. My whole left arm was numb and my whole body was really hot.”
“It was blood everywhere and I was just like, ‘No I need to go.’ So, I knew something was wrong and I just knew I needed to get up. I remember I started trying to crawl to the sidewalk and like, sit myself up. My friend, she’s like ‘Tee, you’ve been shot,'” she added.
The high school graduate was shot in her left arm and the bullet hit an artery, leaving her blood to pour out fast. Upon her admittance into the hospital, she had to have a vein grafted from her leg to improve the blood flow in her arm.
Weeks later, she wanted to know if police had any answers about the shooter, but Chicago police didn’t have an incident report for her case.
Lofton has since filed a police report, and now that she’s a freshman at the University of New Orleans, she has decided to turn her story into a calling to mobilize people against senseless violence. She told the school that the incident has shown her there’s a need for her to use her voice to push for more systems that help victims of violence to mentally recover.
“What I didn’t realize or take into effect was the trauma behind whatever happens to you, and how you overcome it,” Lofton said. “I come from a big family and they were there, they were very loving. I had certain resources … but other young people do not have those things. Our city does not provide anything for them to move forward and it made me realize why so much gun violence or violence overall has a ripple effect, because we’re not getting anything to help us.”
“My goal with my activism is not just to be heard. When I speak out, my hope is for something to get done,” Lofton continued. “The point of my activism is to show that young people understand, that we are aware, that we are coming and that we are here. I won’t be 19 forever, but while I am young I want to make as much noise as I can!”