ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - The progress has been nothing short of miraculous: An Anchorage man paralyzed when he was shot protecting his wife during an armed robbery in Puerto Rico not only spoke cognitively shortly after the incident, but has now begun moving the extremities doctors said he would likely never be able to use again.
Photo courtesy of Kenyada Tyler.
"I thank God for that sign," said Kenyada Tyler, wife of shooting victim Kendric Tyler, "to let him know that He is working on it."
Kendric was moved a few days after the robbery from Puerto Rico to Augusta University Medical Center in Georgia for further treatment.
"We were able to get him out of San Juan," Kenyada said Monday. "He's still from the neck down having some issues moving his body, but we've had a breakthrough."
In the American territory, Kendric and Kenyada were on a trip celebrating the first anniversary of their wedding. They had flown to the Caribbean to go on a seven-day cruise, which wrapped up on April 29. The two were reportedly on a stroll near a Puerto Rico beach when robbers - at least one of them armed - attacked them and demanded money before producing a weapon, with which the couple was threatened.
The threat soon came to fruition when Kendric was hit with at least one severely damaging bullet as he tried to block the criminals from shooting his wife.
A 17-year-old has since been detained by San Juan police for allegedly firing the near-fatal shot, which severed Kendric's spinal cord and left him unable to move from the neck down immediately after the shooting.
"We're walking in faith," Kenyada said on the day of the shooting, "in spite of what things look like."
Amazingly, though the initial prognosis from doctors was bleak to say the least, Kendric was indeed able to speak after the shooting. Still, physicians told the Tylers that it looked like he may never walk again. Soon after the diagnosis - as a couple with strong faith and religious ties - the two appeared in a Facebook live video that Kenyada shared.
"Okay, Facebook live, Kendric wanted to come on and let you guys know he's hanging in there," Kenyada said in a live stream the day of the shooting. "Tell 'em baby."
"Yup, the Lord is awesome," Kendric said.
That's not all, however. Kendric, having been transported to Georgia a few days ago, has now managed to prove doctors at least somewhat wrong. In a video provided by Kenyada, a nurse's hand can be seen holding on to Kendric's as a family friend cheers him on.
"Move my hand toward your stomach," the nurse said. "There you go."
Kendric moved one of the limbs doctors initially said he may never again be able to control.
"My husband lifted up his hand," Kenyada said. "My husband will not be paralyzed from the neck down... Thank you. Keep praying for us, and hopefully we will be home soon."
Kenyada provided a written statement from Kendric to Channel 2 Monday, in which he expressed gratitude, particularly toward his supporters in Alaska.
"I want to thank my church, my job and the people of Alaska for their kind words, love, prayers and support," he said. "What I'm facing is not easy, but I'm hopeful. I'm trusting God in this process."
He continued: "I pray that the young man that shot me finds Jesus in my suffering, turns his life around and one day pour(s) goodness into a community he once hurt. I believe he should be held accountable, but I pray over time his heart of stone is turned into flesh."
While Kendric continues recovery in Georgia, Kenyada remained in Puerto Rico as of Monday night and said she has post-traumatic stress disorder-type symptoms, but noted that she is extensively grateful for all the support she and her family have received.
"I'm here meeting with government officials, and I'm fighting, and I'm talking to all these organizations," she said. "It's tough doing it alone - just me - but I've been handling it. And I'm thankful."
To assist with expenses, including those incurred for medical and travel services, you can donate to Kendric and Kenyada Tyler's fundraiser by clicking here.
You can also send any well wishes such as cards and letters to the following address:
Restoring Hope Ministries of Alaska
P.O. Box 200972