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DEKALB, Ill. (CBS/WBBM) – Three days after he was released from the hospital, Northern Illinois University football player Devon Butler was back at school, talking about the shooting that left him critically wounded earlier this month.
As CBS 2’s Roseanne Tellez reports, Butler wasn’t the target of the shooting and did nothing wrong, but still had a close call when he was shot in a drive-by while inside a friend’s apartment in DeKalb.
Speaking publicly for the first time since he was wounded April 5, Butler said he has no memory of being shot. He said he was merely at a friend’s apartment to play video games and ended up “in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Now, the exciting season on the gridiron Butler was looking forward to this fall will be spent on the sidelines.
Butler was released Tuesday from St. Anthony Hospital in Rockford and will face months of intensive rehabilitation before he can even contemplate football workouts. But he said football is on his mind constantly and NIU head football coach Dave Doeren said Butler will have duties with the team during the coming season.
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“He’s going to be a coach,” Doeren said. “He’s got a whistle and he’s ready to go.”
In fact, Butler said the attack may open new doors for him because of the work he expects to do with the Huskies’ coaching staff.
After the news conference, Butler met with teammates, many of whom visited him during his hospitalization.
Butler said he began thinking about football almost as soon as his first post-shooting surgery was complete. He said he expects to be back in a Husky uniform.
“I’m very confident,” he said. “Talking with my doctors, I’ll soon enough have a full recovery.”
“Every day I wake up and feel that much better and stronger. It’s a day-to-day to process,” he added.
And he said he expects to be an even more imposing force on the field.
“About bones people say when they come back they get a lot bigger and stronger, so hopefully when I come back I’ll be that much bigger and that much tougher,” he said.
Butler is using a special breathing machine about once an hour to maintain normal breathing patterns; the bullet wounds collapsed a lung.
He said he is not sure about his status in classes, although he said he has already tried to “play catch-up” in some of his courses.
Butler, who got out of the hospital Tuesday, had a long list of people to thank, including his family, his school, his team, and especially his medical team.
“I want to thank the doctors and nurses,” he said. “I owe them my life.”
Butler said his coaches were with him and his family in the emergency room for 15 hours after the shooting. That really impressed him, as did the many cards and emails he got from total strangers.He also had special thanks for police, who quickly arrested former NIU students Mark Orozco and Richard Van Arsdale III. Both are charged with attempted murder.
Butler was visiting a friend in an off-campus apartment building on April 4, when shots fired from a passing car pierced the wall and hit him in the back.
DeKalb police said Orozco and Van Arsdale were out for revenge after a drug deal gone bad. But neither Butler, nor the friend he was visiting had anything to do with it.
Because of the nature of his recovery, NIU officials said they expected the news conference to be the only time this semester that Butler will meet with the media.