Sequita Maynard was ready for bed. It had been a long day. She had worked her job at the Burger King and attended an evening class at Central Georgia Technical College.
Her pillow was calling her name.
It was a Tuesday, another sweaty summer night across the Tindall Heights neighborhood. Sequita had asked her mama to come over and cook supper.
“A fried pork chop, turnip greens and macaroni and cheese,” she said, smiling.
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After the supper dishes had been cleared, she took a shower. She told her mother, Myrna, she was going to sleep. It was after midnight, and she had to be at her job at 8 the next morning. She was three months pregnant and beginning to show it. She needed to rest.
But she stepped out on the porch for some fresh air, where friends and neighbors had gathered in the yard. Someone noticed a couple of suspicious cars roaming through the area. The second car, a black Honda Accord, did not have its headlights on.
Anticipating that there might be trouble, Sequita and Myrna turned to hurry inside.
Suddenly, there was loud popping all around them. And it wasn’t leftover firecrackers from the Fourth of July.
Although it happened three years ago today, it is not an anniversary that Sequita, 27, chooses to celebrate.
In the random spray of gang-related gunfire, one of the bullets struck her. Her life was changed by an unknown finger pressed against a trigger.
“I had my right hand on the doorknob and my right foot was stepping in the door when I was hit,” she said. “I felt my body go numb and fell back.”
It was the last thing she remembered for a while.
Myrna was standing next to her daughter when the bullet hit. It was another drive-by shooting, an all-too-familiar episode in inner-city neighborhoods.
She looked down at Sequita, saw the blood and started screaming.
Someone called the police. Two other people had been wounded. Myrna rode with Sequita in the ambulance, praying for God to spare her child’s life as they raced down the dark streets.
There was a measure of guilt, too.
“I kept asking why her and why not me,” Myrna said. “She had her whole life in front or her.”
Why anybody? Another senseless act of violence against an innocent person caught in the crossfire.
Rayfield Maynard Sr. was asleep with the TV on when the phone rang. It was his ex-wife, Myrna.
“She was crying uncontrollably,” he said. “Between those cries, she said this to me: ‘Sequita has been shot.’ The first thing that entered my mind was how could this be? My daughter is friendly, easy-going ...”
And in the emergency room at The Medical Center of Central Georgia.
Doctors rushed to save her. She lost a lot of blood. By morning, Sequita had stabilized. She and the baby were going to survive.
But she was left paralyzed from the waist down. The bullet had lodged near her spinal cord, and it would be too risky to remove it.
It’s still there, inside her. It goes everywhere she goes, following along in her wheelchair.
Rayfield left the hospital after the long night, his daughter still in intensive care. He went home and took a shovel to his backyard garden.
“Before I knew it, I had broken the shovel into pieces,” he said. “An uncontrollable rage was going through my body. I must admit it was powerful and dangerous. I caught myself and said these words: ‘I must find a way to forgive this act of violence.’ It was extremely hard. I realized the big picture. My daughter was paralyzed from the waist down and three months pregnant. I knew I couldn’t help her if I was in jail or dead.”
Sequita cried almost every day. She spent weeks in the hospital, followed by several more weeks of physical therapy. She was sent to the Shepherd Center in Atlanta to learn to make the adjustment to life in a wheelchair.
“I told her to pray and be strong and the Lord would take care of her,” Myrna said.
A few months later, with no feeling across the lower half of her body, she did feel her baby move in her womb. It was a beautiful moment. Alissya Nichole was delivered by caesarean section on Dec. 19, 2008, an early Christmas present.
Sequita now lives in another housing project, Murphey Homes, sometimes known as Alphabet City. She is back in school at Central Georgia Tech, studying to become a medical assistant.
“I got interested in it after all those trips to the doctor,” she said.
Reach Gris at 744-4275.