WASHINGTON — A woman who was critically shot in Columbia Heights over a month ago is using her experience to motivate her to help stop gun violence in the District.
Alex Fleming was walking to meet her friend for dinner near the Columbia Heights Metro stop at 14th & Irving Streets in Northwest in late November. Fleming said it was around 7 p.m. when she heard what sounded like fireworks.
People near the normally busy area scrambled for safety when gunshots erupted. Fleming felt a sharp pain in her shoulder but did not realize the extent of her injuries.
She and another person were randomly shot. Fleming had bullets graze her liver and puncture a lung.
"I didn't realize exactly what it was until I saw the people running," Fleming told WUSA9. "It was a searing burn kind of pressure and it almost didn't seem real."
Fleming called 911 and asked for help from a nearby business. By the time she reached her friend standing outside, Fleming collapsed on the ground.
"I remember looking up and that's when I started to fade out and I didn't know how this was going to turn out but she [friend] said I'm going to make it," Fleming recalled.
Fleming spent 11 days at the hospital including a brief stint at the ICU. She spent her holidays back home in North Carolina as she begins her journey to heal emotionally.
She has been in touch with survivors' groups and now wants to get involved in figuring out ways to make streets in D.C. safer.
"It's kind of hard to wrap your mind why am I so lucky when we see on the news stories every day of people dying?" Fleming said. "We just got to be together but I don't know what the next steps are. I definitely want to fight to make sure we feel safe in this city and in this country."
Since her incident, there were other violent crimes near the Columbia Heights Metro stop, including a 17-year-old being shot inside a train that forced to halt operations at the station.
A concerned neighbor also captured the sounds of bullets firing near the same intersection during a different shooting in December.
Crime data from police showed violent crimes are slightly up by 3% compared to 2020. Assaults with a dangerous weapon in D.C. also saw a slight increase.
The most alarming trend is the number of homicides at 227, the highest in almost 20 years.
The city partnered with the FBI to help curb the growing issue of illegal guns being used in multiple crimes. They announced a new program to help incentivize people who report illegal guns anonymously without having to testify in court or wait for a conviction.