CINCINNATI — After 150 days in the hospital, one of Cincinnati’s youngest shooting survivors returned home with his family Monday.
Marcellus "MJ" Whitehead was hospitalized in June after stray bullets hit him while he was walking near his Westwood home.
His mother, Marcella Thompson, called WCPO 9News Monday to let us know doctors had released her son.
“I’m on my way now to get my baby dressed and bring him home,” said Thompson. ”You know, let him feel this air! Let him breathe some fresh air!”
It was June 12, and the 8-year-old was about to have family movie night at his home when his mother allowed him to walk to the corner store with his older cousin. That’s when someone began shooting. MJ was caught in the crossfire and bullets hit him in the head and leg.
Marcellus, MJ, Whitehead is home after 150 days in the hospital!! He’s one of the city’s youngest shooting survivors. Look back at his journey with me at 6:00 tonight on @WCPO pic.twitter.com/94rZAAf3Db— Courtney Francisco (@CFranciscoWCPO) November 8, 2021
“We spent months and months praying and at the hospital and in our church. Our pastor prayed for us. I posted my baby in different prayer groups. Not only our prayer helped, but different prayers from people around the world, you know, people who didn’t know us,” said Thompson.
Her son was an active third-grader who loved to play football. Suddenly, he was in a medically induced coma for nearly two months, on a ventilator, feeding tube and undergoing more than five surgeries.
”I know my baby wasn't giving up, because I know his heart, and I know what he's like,” said Thompson. “I know what it's like to be in his presence. I mean, he's always been determined.”
There have been times when she has had to face the accused shooter in court, Darius Harris, who is 19.
Time when she would ask for peace as Cincinnati’s gun violence began impacting more innocent children.
In her son’s case alone, police say bullets hit five people: the suspected shooter, an 18-year-old, 6-year-old MiShawn Elliot, and a bullet ended up in a 7-year-old’s shoe.
“This causes a lot of trauma to families,” said Thompson.
All the while, MJ kept healing.
“He do open his eyes. He do respond to our voices, and he do move his tongue a little. So, I know he will be talking soon,” said Thompson.
She says paramedics will bring him home on his hospital bed. He will have nursing care there, but he will be back in time for the holidays.
“I knew that my baby was going to be okay, and I’m going to say it again. My baby will be okay. You know, this is only the beginning.”