'She's a very strong, brave little girl': Guardsman uses training to help 12-year-old mall shooting victim
By STAFF AND WIRE REPORTS Published: November 28, 2018
A 12-year-old girl who was shot at an Alabama mall is out of the hospital and on the road to recovery, thanks in part to the help of a guardsman who came to her aid.
Spc. Rashad Billingsley, an 18-year-old member of the Alabama National Guard, told CNN that he was shopping at the Riverchase Galleria in Hoover on Thanksgiving when shots rang out and his military training kicked in.
When he came across 12-year-old Molly Bennett in the chaos, Billingsley used a shirt off a store rack to put pressure on a gunshot wound on her back to stop the bleeding.
“I really didn’t have time to have any fear,” he told TV station WBRC.
Julie Moore Bennett, Molly’s mom, posted about the ordeal on Facebook over the weekend. She said Molly and her sister, Jessie, were shopping with their grandmother.
"Shots were fired, and one of the bullets hit Molly in the back," Bennett wrote on Facebook. "She said that her back hurt, but didn't even realize she had been shot until she overheard my mom telling me on the phone."
Billingsley took care of Molly and stayed with her until paramedics arrived. At the hospital, a CT scan showed that Molly had a fractured rib, but her spine was not touched by the bullet. The bullet will stay where it is and shouldn't cause her any more trouble, her mother said.
Billingsley was pleased to hear that Molly is recovering and said he and her family are making plans to meet.
“She’s a very strong, brave little girl,” he told reporter Janice Rogers of WBRC in a Facebook video. “I’m glad that she made it through."
Billingsley also told WBRC that he was praying for the family of 21-year-old Emantic "EJ" Bradford Jr., who was shot by a Hoover police officer responding to the same shooting that wounded Molly and an 18-year-old man.
"It could have been me,” Billingsley said.
Police initially said Bradford had a gun in his hand and was responsible for the shooting. But they later retracted that statement and said Bradford was armed but that it was unlikely that he had done the shooting. Police said they are still seeking the gunman who wounded the two victims.
Information from a story by Carol Robinson of Alabama Media Group via Tribune News Service was used in this report.