Teen saved by her glasses feels ‘lucky to be alive’

Sixteen-year-old Alonza Bryant was asleep on the couch of her Seattle home Saturday night when she awoke with a jolt, blood streaming down her face. Her siblings, who were also lounging on the couch, screamed.
Jan 1, 2014

 

Sixteen-year-old Alonza Bryant was asleep on the couch of her Seattle home Saturday night when she awoke with a jolt, blood streaming down her face. Her siblings, who were also lounging on the couch, screamed.

Bryant ran to the bathroom to inspect what she thought was a bloody nose — something the high-school softball and football player was familiar with — and couldn’t believe her eyes. A bullet was lodged in the bridge of her nose; the force of its impact had apparently been blunted by her heavy black-framed glasses.

It wasn’t until seconds later that Bryant felt pain in her face and grew woozy. Her mother and sister begged 911 dispatchers to send police in a hurry.

Another barrage of gunfire then ripped through the home, and Bryant and her family huddled together in a hallway between the bedrooms and bathroom.

“They (doctors at Seattle’s Harborview Medical Center) said they’ve never seen this. They said I’m a miracle child,” Bryant said Monday.

With her eyes swollen shut, her nose bulbous after being broken, and a thick bandage between her eyes, Bryant felt her way around her family’s home two days after the close encounter with serious injury or possibly death. Bullet holes marred the walls, the vinyl window shades and even the top corner of a big-screen television.

Police credit the heavy frame of Bryant’s glasses with blunting the force of the bullet and possibly saving her life.

Although her two younger brothers, her older sister and other relatives were inside the house that night, no one else was injured.

“It was a nightmare that happened to my family,” said Lavette Bryant, the teen’s mother.

Gang-unit detectives are investigating the drive-by shooting inside the small yellow rental home, located above busy South Roxbury Street.

Lavette Bryant, a stay-at-home mom, said she’s fairly certain that occupants of a dark-colored car, which she saw idling in front of the home with its lights off between the two barrages of gunfire, mistakenly targeted their home. She believes they were searching for a relative of Alonza’s who is in a gang.

“To me, they weren’t after us,” she said. “I’m just a nervous wreck.”

Lavette Bryant said she’s scared to remain in the home, worried about being targeted again. But, she said, they can’t afford to move.

Alonza Bryant was taken to the hospital immediately after the 9:40 p.m. shooting and returned home around lunchtime Sunday. Though shaken, the girl remains hopeful that the injury won’t impact her ability to play softball and as a defensive end for Rainier Beach High School’s junior-varsity football team.

Coach Mark Haley said she is one of the few girls to ever play football for the school.

Alonza is a 10th-grader at Seattle Public Schools’ Interagency Academy Youth Education Program, designed for troubled students or those with learning disabilities. Because the program does not have athletics, she plays sports for Rainier Beach.

On Monday, she pointed toward the bullet holes and her blood spatter, still on the bathroom floor, sink and on a hallway wall. While she’s aware of other shootings in her neighborhood, she said this was the first time their house has been targeted.

“I feel lucky to still be alive,” she said.

Pointing to her glasses, set on the edge of the kitchen table, she marveled that the only damage they sustained was a popped-out lens.

“That’s why I’m getting another pair just like them,” she said.

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Seattle Times news researcher Miyoko Wolf contributed to this report, which includes information from Times archives.

 

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