FAMU student won’t let shooting detour her from getting degree
By Ki-Jana King
As an enrolled freshman at FAMU, Tia Harold was expecting to spend four days in Tallahassee for freshmen orientation.
Instead the then 17-year-old Jacksonville native ended up spending three weeks in Tallahassee Memorial Hospital, having a metal rod placed in her leg after being hit by a stray bullet.
But she never swayed from her desire to be a student at FAMU. The HBCU culture and the academic curriculum were too strong for her to turn her back, despite her misfortune before she officially became a student.
Harold, who is majoring in Elementary education, is on course to graduate next year.
“I already invested into coming to FAMU and I was really excited about it,” said Harold. “After the orientation, I really liked the HBCU scene and all of my friends were here so I thought to myself, ‘well, what are the chances of me getting shot again”?
At the time when bullets rang out by an unknown assailant on Perry Street, Harold was in a crowd of about 200 people who were attending a block party. A bullet struck above her right ankle, shattering her tibia.
However, Harold didn’t immediately know that she was hit. It wasn’t until a friend drew her attention to the streak of blood near her ankle that she realized her injury.
“I tripped while running but I thought it was from a rock or something,” she said. “My friend was nearby and she saw it happen so she then ran to me yelling, ‘Oh my God. You got hit.’ ”
As she sat on the ground waiting for the first responders to arrive, a dispute that she had with a friend before attending the block part echoed in her head.
“I was trying to convince her to come to the party with me, but she said no,” said Harold, who stepped out to the party with someone else.
Harold’s parents got the dreaded call while their daughter was being taken to TMH by paramedics at about 1:30 a.m. It stunned her mother, Beverly James, who never let her daughter stay out late while she attended high school in Jacksonville.
James, who had accompanied Harold to orientation, was by her daughter’s side while she endured two surgeries.
“It was kind of a frustrating time because my job kept calling and telling me that I needed to return to work, but my daughter could have lost her life,” said James. “I basically told them that I would get there when I get there.”
To help her mother deal with the lack of compassion from her employer, Harold decided that it was best to continue her rehabilitation process and start her first semester of college back home in Jacksonville. She returned to FAMU in the spring of 2016.
Amari Williams, a bystander the night of the block party, recalled the scene as being one with people scrambling to safety. Some were trampled, he said.