‘My babywas shot in my womb but survived’
Tiffany Daviswaseightmonthspregnantwhenshe wasshot in the head and stomach as shecameout of a supermarket in Miami, Florida. As she slipped into a coma, the racewasonto save her baby
Picking up a basket, I strolled along the convenience store aisle, smiling as my baby kicked inside me. I was eight months pregnant with my third child, and doing some shopping for dinner. My mum Kimilee Davis was looking after my two daughters, Naomi, seven, and Tiffany, four, while my boyfriend, Phillip Milton, was at work. “I’ll feed the kids then put my feet up,” I thought, paying at the checkout.
I was walking to my car in the parking lot and was still thinking about what to make for dinner when suddenly I heard gunshots.
Almost instantly I felt something hit me in my left side. It stung and knocked the wind out of me, making me double over. Whoosh! I was hit again, this time on the forehead and was falling face down. Everything went black...
I could hear muffled voices, and peeled my eyes back. I was lying in the parking lot with a crowd of people staring down at me. My head throbbed and the left side of my stomach felt like I was being stabbed over and over.
“Call the police. She’s been shot,” someone said, while another knelt down beside me. “Oh my gosh, she’s pregnant,” someone else yelled. “We need an ambulance now!” For the next several minutes I floated in and out of consciousness as I listened to the paramedics take my vital signs and lift me into the ambulance. “My baby,” I wanted to shout, but I was in too much pain to speak.
I heard the paramedics discussing how a man, who’d walked out of the store behind me, had also been shot. “It must be Rodney,” I thought, panicking. Rodney Durant Junior was a friend and we’d been talking inside the store. He’d been behind me at the checkout.
I could hear alarms going off, but didn’t know where they were coming from. I was struggling to keep my eyes open. Everything hurt and I was being enveloped by pain.
“I don’t know if she’s going to make it,” one of the paramedics said, unaware that I could hear him.
“Please just save my baby,” I whispered, before I closed my eyes and slipped into a coma.
I arrived at the Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami less than 10 minutes later and was immediately prepped for an emergency caesarean section before I was even treated for my head injury.
An ultrasound showed that my unborn baby had been struck inside my womb, leaving her left arm shattered from the bullet. She was the doctor’s first priority because the wound was severe and it could have been fatal.
In a matter of minutes, while I was sedated in a coma, Skyler was born, five weeks premature weighing just four pounds (1.8kg).
The bullet was recovered from my womb and Skyler was fitted with a cast on her left arm to hold her tiny bone in place. She was then rushed to intensive care. Thankfully Phillip, 28, had been called and was able to be with our baby while I was unconscious.
He would come and hold my hand and tell me about our precious little girl, who luckily was perfect except for her injured arm. “Wake up,” he’d beg me, but I couldn’t hear him.
Incredibly, the shot to my head had just missed permanently damaging my brain, although it got lodged there.
Doctors decided to leave the bullet in situ. An operation to remove it could have left me paralysed if the brain or a nerve was damaged.
But the more pressing matter was if I’d ever wake up. For while Skyler was recovering in the intensive care unit, I was still in a coma and fighting for my life. The doctors told Phillip that while they were happy that I hadn’t suffered any brain damage, they weren’t sure when I’d wake up. “We’ll just have to wait,’’ they said.
The lights were bright, too bright, but I had to open my eyes. I blinked, my vision blurry as my eyes adjusted to the white. I was in a strange room. There was no one else there and I had no idea where I was. Frowning, I glanced around, trying to remember but everything was a haze.
I scratched my head, and froze. There was just stubble beneath my finger tips. My hair had been shaved off. Panicking, I sat upright, and that’s when I realised my stomach was flatter – I wasn’t pregnant any more.
Terror overwhelmed me and I began tearing at the feeding tubes and IVs, calling for my family and demanding answers.
“Where am I?” I screamed. “What’s happened to my baby?” I couldn’t remember anything – and it was scaring me. Had I lost the baby? Had I been in a terrible accident? I didn’t know.
Then the door opened suddenly and two nurses rushed in. “Your baby is fine,” they soothed me. “Skyler’s in another room, waiting for you to wake up.”
I smiled when I heard my baby’s name. It was beautiful. Her full name was Skyler Miracle Davis, and Phillip had chosen it for her. He then came in and told me all that had happened
including that I had been out cold for two weeks.
“It’s a miracle you survived this,” my mum said as she held my hand and kissed my cheek. “You and Skyler are living miracles.”
I couldn’t help but cry, realising all that Skyler and I had been through together before she was even born.
Phillip told me that no one had been arrested for the shootings and police had no suspects or information about who had attacked us or why, although there were reports of a green minivan speeding away from the parking lot immediately after the incident.
But there was even worse news. Rodney had been shot dead in the attack after being hit twice. I couldn’t stop crying, realising how close to death we’d been.
“I need to see my baby,” I cried and held out my arms when they brought her in.
“Hello beautiful,” I said, cradling Skyler. She was so pretty, with big brown eyes and wisps of curly hair. She was wrapped in a pink blanket, but when I opened it up I gasped.
Her arm was still in a cast and she had feeding tubes inside her mouth and sensors on her arms monitoring her vitals. “You’re so brave,” I told her. I’d missed the first two weeks of her life, but I loved her fiercely and would never let anything bad happen to her again.
“It’s incredible,” my doctor said to me later. “She’s one of the youngest victims to survive a violent crime like this. Her life was nearly taken before she even had a chance to live.”
Looking down at my little girl, I nodded. “She’s a fighter,” I assured the doctor. “Just like her mum.”
It was a month later, on January 10, 2013, that I was allowed to go home. The trauma had affected my speech and motor skills, for which I was told to undergo therapy for a few months. It helped and my speech is fine now.
As for my daughter, she’s now a year old and growing up fast. She continues to be fitted with new casts every few months because the bone has still not healed completely as it is in a fast-growing phase. But besides that, she’s absolutely perfect. Because she has a cast, she finds it difficult to crawl around but she enjoys moving around in her walker. She is always smiling and cheerful.
As for me, I suffer from chronic headaches and numbness in my chest, arms and fingers sometimes. Doctors say that it could be due to the bullet lodged in my head pressing against some nerves.
But there is no amount of pain that will stand in the way of me making up for lost time with my babies.
Unfortunately the police were never able to find the criminals responsible for shooting me and Skyler and killing Rodney. As there were no surveillance cameras at the store or enough witnesses at the scene, police weren’t even able to identify any suspects.
But I don’t let that get in the way of my life. My attackers are still on the loose, but I can’t be afraid or live in fear. I was just some innocent mum in the wrong place at the wrong time, and I want to make the most of my life now.
I almost died, and my baby could have been killed too. We were both incredibly lucky, and to make up for lost time, I threw a fabulous first birthday party for Skyler. We had some close friends and their children over and Skyler had the time of her life, revelling in the attention.
I was so happy for her. Like her middle name, she is truly a miracle and I will not let anything or anyone take her away from us.
Skyler’s arm was shattered while in Tiffany’s womb
Skyler still has to wear a cast on her left arm
Tiffany with children Tiffany, Skyler and Naomi
Skyler at one month. She weighed just 1.8kg at birth