PINE BLUFF, Ark. – A 14-year-old is still in the hospital more than a month after he was shot in the head in Pine Bluff and told he would not survive.
Damareyon Harris is recovering at Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock with constant care and therapy. Tuesday, his mother, Dione Bates, gave an update on his condition during her first on-camera interview since the shooting.
“The first day, the second day, the first week they thought he wasn’t going to make it, but he’s still here,” Bates said.
Since a bullet entered Damareyon’s forehead and exited the back of his skull on March 20, he has been surrounded by family. The teen used to play football, track and basketball, but his mother Dione Bates said now he can’t do any of that.
“He’s trying to get better. He wants to go home. That’s all he keeps saying, ‘I want to go home, Momma’. So that’s our goal,” Bates said.
Damareyon has half his skull, and the other half will need surgical replacement. His memory from the day of the shooting is gone, and Bates has been told one day those memories might return.
According to Pine Bluff Police, what happened that Monday around 6:20 p.m. in the 1700 block of South Oak Street is still under investigation. Authorities arrested a 15-year-old and a 17-year-old within days of the shooting and booked them into the Jefferson County Juvenile Detention Center for 1st-degree battery.
Jefferson County Prosecutor Kyle Hunter will determine if the teenagers will be tried as adults once the case file has been completed and submitted to his office.
“We have been in Pine Bluff our whole life, and I feel like somebody needs to do something. Who I don’t know. When I don’t know, but I would like to help and figure out what we need to do for all the kids. I even catch myself feeling sorry for the boys who did it. And I’m like Lord, I don’t know what to do. Why do I feel sorry for them? Because they are kids too,” Bates said.
Bates is a mother of eight children, and she said Damareyon isn’t her only son who has been shot. With other teens and young adults killed by gun violence, she’s decided if the city can’t get weapons out of the hands of kids, it’s time she gets her kids out of the city.
And for those other kids left behind, she has this advice.
“Find something else to do. If you can write songs about what you’re going to do to somebody, write a church song. Do something different. Write a love song,” Bates said. “Until they have faith in God that he will do what He says He will do, this will continue to happen.”
There’s no date set yet for when Damareyon will be able to leave the hospital, but he keeps trying. His family is having to drive between Pine Bluff and Little Rock to be with him and their other children who are all under the age of 17. A GoFundMe was opened to assist Damareyon’s family with medical expenses.
According to Pine Bluff police, there have been six homicides so far this year with one juvenile victim.