Man shot in South Loop carjacking paralyzed, but endures

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A 26-year-old man who was shot in the back during a May 16 carjacking in the South Loop is paralyzed, possibly permanently, but his gratitude prevails.

"I'll take this over not being here at all, any day," said Leon Jackson, a club promoter who was shot after leaving an event.

Jackson's perspective may be because he's seen the worst. Ten years ago, 16-year-old Blair Holt -- one of his closest friends - was fatally shot on as he shielded a friend from gunfire on a CTA bus.

Just one week before Jackson was shot, he spoke at an event with Holt's family to dedicate a portion of a street in Holt's memory.

"Blair was like the start, we lost 16 people that year, junior year," Jackson said.


Jackson was an innocent bystander when he was shot near South Wabash Avenue and East Cermak Road.

"I was walking to my car and the guy came across the street and charged at me," Jackson said. "I saw the gun and everything, but I didn't realize how close he was until I dropped."

His mother Tawonnia Jackson just asks why. "I don't understand that," she said.

Police are still investigating the shooting.

No one was in custody Wednesday.


He was shot twice in the arm and back. The damage to his spine caused the possibly permanent paralysis from the waist down.

Currently, the staff at the Shirley Ryan Ability Lab are helping him to become as independent as possible.

"It keeps me uplifted to see him progress," said mom Tawonnia Jackson.

Leon Jackson has several more weeks of rehab and plans to stay in the city temporarily.

However, while he loves Chicago and the many people who have supported him, he plans to leave for good when he is able.

"It's a great city, it's just a bunch of people ruining our wonderful city," he said.

But Leon Jackson's not focusing on who or why. Instead, he's looking at what comes next for him.

"That's the main focus. What's next?" he said. "Take full advantage of what you have and full advantage of what you have in front of you to better the situation."
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