The SIU student who sustained a gunshot wound in a Saturday evening robbery says this week that he feels lucky to be alive, while still acknowledging his own "reckless" behavior may have contributed to the incident playing out the way it did.
Spencer DePue, a senior in marketing at SIU, said he was in a foul mood early Saturday evening after an afternoon of drinking and a disagreement with a friend. As a result, he decided to walk from his home on the east side of Carbondale to Common Grounds on East Grand Avenue in order to get a cup of coffee.
As he took a shortcut through Tatum Heights Park, DePue said he saw a man "from the corner of my eye" and soon had a gun in his face.
"He points the gun and asks for my cash" and other valuables, DePue said Tuesday, speaking by phone from his home in Naperville. "I was a little reckless. I was a little frustrated. I was just mad. I just got my phone, and I was having a bad day."
DePue said he retrieved his wallet from his pocket, but he dropped it on the ground and then tried to go after the robber’s gun. "At that moment he got scared and jumped back a bit," DePue said. The suspect fired a shot at DePue’s right shoulder, at which point DePue, in shock, slumped to the ground.
"It took me a second to figure out what actually happened," DePue said. "I didn’t expect him to actually try to shoot me."
DePue said that immediately after the gunshot, he heard scampering footsteps of what seemed to be two accomplices of the shooter, who proceeded to stomp on him. Ultimately, the trio got away with DePue’s phone and wallet, which contained $13.
"I realized I could use everything except my right arm," DePue said. "I got up and sprinted after them, screaming at them and kind of had a crazy little moment of triumph that I wasn’t dead."
Once it was over, DePue knew he needed help, and he made his way through the woods toward Pinch Penny Pub, slowly realizing that he was "bleeding out" and beginning to lose consciousness. At first, he said, none of the onlookers near the bar even believed he had been shot.
"It was kind of a little frustrating when nobody believed me that I’ d been shot," DePue said. "I was kind of mad. Both of my t-shirts were completely soaked through with blood."
Eventually, DePue said, a bouncer called police, who responded just before 6 p.m. DePue initially was treated at Memorial Hospital of Carbondale and then was transferred to Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis. In the end, he suffered a broken clavicle and some nerve damage, although doctors noted "how lucky" he was.
Police have not reported having any suspects in the attack, and Police Chief Jeff Grubbs did not return a call Tuesday seeking further comment. DePue said he might recognize the man who shot him if he saw him again, but he wasn’t certain. He said he never got a good look at his other two attackers.
DePue said he plans to return to Carbondale once he is fully recovered, although he couldn’t say for sure how long that would be. He said the incident initially soured him on Carbondale a bit, but he is getting over that.
"It was bound to happen to somebody," DePue said. "I just happened to be the reckless idiot who decided to go after his gun."