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'I thought I was going to die': 9-year-old Garfield Heights girl shares her gun violence survival story

Nyairra Green was shot in the eye by a stray bullet and has had a long road to recovery. Now, she wants to share her story.

GARFIELD HEIGHTS, Ohio — It's been just over a year since an 8-year-old Garfield Heights girl was shot in the eye. Her case remains unsolved to this day. 

On March 16, 2022, as kids are falling asleep after a barbecue at a home on Grand Division Avenue in Garfield Heights, a shot goes off outside.

Inside, 8 year old Nyairra Green is hit.

“We was all laying in my Mom’s friend’s bed and then I got up and it just hit me. Then I laid down and I holded my right eye,” Nyairra said. "I thought I was going to die."

As Nyairra is rushed to the hospital, her mother Shernisha Cheney is aware that no matter what happens, her daughter's life has been permanently altered.

“The scar, the bullet, the prosthetic eye is definitely a constant reminder," Cheney said. "Just hearing her say those things about how she didn’t want to die that night, that’s what she told me on the way to the hospital. She said, 'Mommy, I don’t want to die,' and I said 'You’re not going to die.' That plays over and over and over again in my head. Every single day."

We first met Nyairra on April 19th 2022, one month after she was shot.

She was wearing a Be Kind Shirt, her eye covered in a patch, showing off her new Barbies.

She, along with her Mom were asking for anyone with information in her case to come forward. It’s a case that remains unsolved to this day, despite a $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.

Now at the age of nine, Nyairra wants to share her story with Mom by her side, because she survived and she knows there are others who don’t.

“I want to know why y’all have guns if you don’t need it to protect somebody. If you don’t need it to protect you,” Nyairra said.

Nyairra also wants people to know the night she was shot and lost her right eye is not the only thing that defines her. 

She’s also a singer, active in her church. She's a sister and an aspiring nail and makeup artist.

“You can be shot in a place where you’re not supposed to be here, and God saved you. So just to see her grow and just to see God’s miracle is amazing to me,” Cheney said.

But the scars of gun violence aren’t just visible on the outside, and Mom notices the differences daily.

“She’s still very confident, but she has attachment, she has anxiety, she has attachment issues. She’s never wanted to be around me so much, like we sleep together every night and to see how scared she is, it just makes me feel helpless because how am I supposed to help her? I feel like I do everything I’m supposed to do and she still feels this way,” Cheney said.

And just because her eye is now different, others treat her differently.

“My daughter is getting bullied, like these are the things that come with it. I had a little girl tell my daughter ‘shut up or I’ll shoot you again.’ These are the things we have to deal with,” Cheney said.

Cheney says it’s her daughter’s strength that carries their family through, but catching Nyairra’s shooter is what would really bring some peace of mind.

“It would mean the world to me because anyone that careless should not be out on the street,” Cheney said.

And for Nyairra, a sense of safety.

“I feel safe because of my Mom. She protect us and stuff and I feel scared, because I don’t want to be shot at or nothing no more,” Nyairra said.

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