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‘I’m thankful I’m alive,’ says UNC-Charlotte student from Apex shot by campus gunman

May 29, 2019

One month after he was critically hurt in a shooting last month at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Drew Pescaro has returned to his home in Apex to recuperate after being released from the hospital two days ago.

“I’m thankful I’m alive,” Pescaro said to WRAL News. “It’s a second chance at life.”

Two students were killed and four were hurt when a gunman barged into a classroom as end-of-year presentations in an anthropology class were underway and opened fire, sending students ducking for cover or running for their lives.

Riley Howell, 21, and Ellis Parlier, 19, were killed during the mass shooting on April 30, and four other -- Pescaro, Sean Dehart, 20, of Apex, Emily Houpt, 23, of Charlotte, and Rami Alramadhan, 20, of Saudi Arabia -- were wounded.

Trystan Andrew Terrell, 22, remains at the Mecklenburg County Jail without bond after he was charged with two counts of murder, four counts of attempted murder, possessing and firing a weapon on educational property, and assault with a deadly weapon. A motive for the shooting still remains unknown.

Pescaro, 19, has been laid up in a hospital since the shooting, and says now that he is so thankful to be home.

When asked to recount what happened that day, he says: “I just remember looking over my shoulder and seeing a kid running into the class. I heard the first shot, and I thought, ‘Oh my God, this is actually happening in my life right now.’”

Pescaro said he remembers when the bullet pierced his skin.

“I just remember feeling it,” he said. “I yelled out, ‘I got shot!’”

He said he fell out of his chair as chaos erupted all around with students running and screaming.

An ROTC student ran in and knelt down by Pescaro and held his hand, and began to reassure him that things would be OK.

“That’s when it started running through my head (that) I might die from this,” Pescaro said.

The ROTC cadet told Pescaro to keep squeezing his hand, making sure the shooting victim remained alert.

Two police officers who arrived at the scene decided there was not enough time for an ambulance.

“So, they just picked me up by my legs and arms, two cops, and put me in the back of a cop car and took me to the closest hospital,” Pescaro said.

He would eventually be transferred to Carolinas Medical Center, where he would spend the next three weeks.

“I was shot in my back, about an inch from my spine,” he said.

The bullet pierced through his abdomen, just missing his stomach and liver, requiring multiple surgeries.

His mom, Denise, stayed by his side and Carolina Panthers football players came by to be his cheerleaders.

Pescaro is thankful to have survived.

“Being in the room with the other two who did not, that (takes) a toll on me,” he said.

Pescaro said he did not know the two students who were killed very well.

And he said he didn’t see Howell fighting the gunman.

Parlier, was sitting at a table behind Drew.

“I will be going to therapy to clear my mind of all that, and to move on from it and not let it haunt me the rest of my life,” he said.

He is scheduled to return to the hospital next week to make sure his infection is gone.. Doctors are also expected to remove his stitches.

Pescaro is able to walk and do most things on his own again, saying there is no way he would ever considering leaving UNC-Charlotte and will be there this fall, with his freshman brother, Alec.

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