Norcross GA Jan 8 2017 With a new year comes renewed faith for the family of a Norcross security guard who was shot multiple times while on duty at a hotel on Jimmy Carter Boulevard in September.
But their struggle to deal with the repercussions remains.
A man staying at the Norcross Extended Stay approached the unsuspecting guard in a hallway that morning. The man repeatedly fired his gun as the victim tried to crawl to safety, pleading for the gunman to stop.
The suspect eventually was arrested and charged, and the guard survived. But his life may never be the same.
Stories about victims of senseless crimes are plastered across headlines so often that some people become desensitized to the violence; others may momentarily feel concerned.
But very few truly can empathize with the plight of victims long after the TV news cameras stop rolling and reporters have gotten the details of an incident by deadline.
Not many victims or their families bounce back after tragedies. It’s uncomfortable for those on the outside looking in to delve into the victims’ painful search for some sense of normalcy.
Bethlehem resident Michelle Rucker is the wife of the victim who was struck by a gunman eight times during his shift.
For six years, William Hudson, 46, had been employed by the Norcross Extended Stay, 2250 Pelican Drive, often working seven days a week including overnight shifts. The hotel — not to be confused with the Extended Stay of America chain — is in an area rampant with crime.
Yet Hudson was known for helping people who lived in the hotel, according to several members of the community. He didn’t mind lending a hand or providing them with food and other necessities.
His life changed when a 33-year-old man who lived there ambushed the security guard in a hallway Sept. 1.
Since then his family has shown seemingly unshakable faith despite seeing the head of their family undergo surgery, be on life support in a coma and almost slip away.
Exactly three months later, Hudson was released from Gwinnett Medical Center after making what his doctors reportedly called a miraculous recovery.
His family has dealt with the emotional toll of the shooting, but they’re worried their long-term financial future isn’t secure.
They are thankful for the family, friends and even strangers who pulled together in the weeks following the incident. A major utilities company paid ahead on the family’s home mortgage. Donations were made from their church and online. Meals were prepared and regularly sent to the family. Members of local law enforcement stepped in to help.
Rucker was let go from her job after taking time off to be with her husband, and Hudson obviously has been unable to work. His employer didn’t offer health insurance, she said.
They’re seeking financial help through a county victims assistance program but have been held up by Hudson’s employer, who refuses to sign the necessary paperwork, Rucker said. She’s been unsuccessful at finding a nonprofit that will provide assistance for an extended period of time.
Hotel owner Shiv Aggarwal said his “management team has fulfilled all requests” and reached out to the family.
“If anything happened there, it is out of our control,” Aggarwal said. “It’s a peaceful place. … Thank God William Hudson’s feeling much better and is home from the hospital. Police will do their job and do him justice. We’ve never had a problem here.”
Aggarwal is the founder of the Atlanta-area real estate firm American Management Services with properties in seven states including the Global Mall, according to his firm. The commercial center is on Jimmy Carter Boulevard about a mile from the hotel.
He has been involved in more than $500 million worth of acquisitions, according to his firm.
He reportedly has been honored for his social activism and philanthropy, in addition to being a self-made industry expert.
“We are a 276-unit property,” Aggarwal said about the hotel. “You can’t know who’s there and stay on top of everyone living there on a regular basis.”
Police records show the location has been used as a brothel, for drug rings and a haven for other criminal activity. Online travel review sites offer even worse details.
Rucker doesn’t hold a grudge against Xavier Geder, who has been charged with the crime and is behind bars. She said she’s come to terms with the situation and has forgiven Geder.
What Rucker struggles with is how she and her husband will provide for their family including William Durrell, 24, Taisa, 22, Rayvaun, 20, Janiah, 10, and McKinnley Jacqui, 9.
A few weeks before Hudson is discharged, just after his feeding tube is removed, his wife and his parents William Sr. and Joanne make small talk as they sit in his hospital room. They’ve developed a routine for their visits and keep Hudson as comfortable as possible.
Hudson has received a few of his favorite foods, but he doesn’t eat or say much. He’ll watch a football game on a TV — “small enough so patients won’t get too comfortable,” William Sr. joked — in between listening to the conversation around him. Every now and then, he’ll say a few words to his mom.
The atmosphere isn’t heavy, sad or tense. Everyone in the room is hopeful but realistic. Letting pity creep in isn’t an option.
While most people have put their troubles from 2016 behind them, hoping to start fresh in the new year, the Hudson family’s battle continues.
Not one thinks society owes them a penny, but they’re humble enough to ask for help and brave enough to depend on God to get through tough days.
Everything happens for a reason, Rucker said, so they’re slowly and faithfully putting their life back together, a bit weary at times but grateful for new mercy each day.
Gwinnett Daily Post