RAINSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — The two men severely wounded in a shooting in Rainsville last Friday moved to rehab facilities this week.
Josh Nance and Matthew Whitt were doing their duties at Fred’s just after closing time August 24 when a man fired shots through the locked front door.
Bullets hit both men in the back, and left them with no feeling in their legs.
Billy Jay Whitt told WHNT News 19 he got a phone call from his son moments after the shooting, but at first he didn’t know who the man on other end of the call was.
“He said, Dad, I love you, I said okay, and then I recognized it was Matthew and I said, okay, I love you too, and he said, I’ve been shot, I said okay,” Whitt said.
He said his sons often do pranks, and was unaware 39-year-old Matthew was calling while bleeding on the floor of Fred’s, unable to move his legs.
“He said I’ve been shot dad, I said where are you at, he said I’m at work. I said okay.
“Then it dawned on me that he might be telling me the truth, that it might not be a prank
so I said okay, we’re on the way.”
Whitt said he broke the speed limit and ran a red light to get to Fred’s, where Rainsville Police Chief Charles Center stopped him in the parking lot.
A helicopter took Matthew Whitt and Josh Nance to Huntsville Hospital.
Whitt regained mobility in his left leg, and despite continued numbness in his right, he and his father expect he will walk again.
“If he walks with a cane, that’s fine, he’s alive,” Billy Jay Whitt said.
“He’s my boy, and we’re going to do whatever we can to help him progress and heal.”
Nance, 24, has use of his arms, but is paralyzed from the chest down.
However, he started feeling tingling in a thigh Wednesday and a shin Thursday afternoon.
Billy Jay Whitt said the Fred’s company is covering medical expenses for both victims.
Rainsville business owner Jimmy Joliet coordinated a fundraiser to help Whitt and Nance with expenses one they get out of the rehab facilities.
You can learn more about those efforts here.
Investigators throughout northeast Alabama continue to search for the shooter, and Billy Jay Whitt has a message for him:
I was in the military for nearly 30 years. In the military you shoot people because you
are defending your life. When you go and you shoot someone through a door, in the
back, you’re a coward. Facing someone face to face with a gun to defend yourself,
that’s a different story. You’re not going to get away with what you did, they’re going to
catch you, and you’re going to pay for your crimes. That’s all there is to it. Give
yourself up, come on in, face the music, be a man because you weren’t a man Friday
night. You weren’t a man, you were a coward, face the music, come on in, go to Fyffe,
go to Rainsville, go to the DeKalb County Jail and turn yourself to Jimmy Harris and say
look, I did this. Then let’s go from there. You’re not going to get away, forget that,
you’re not going to get away.
WHNT News 19 will have more about the fundraising and community response on the Saturday evening news.