COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - A visiting college football fan is now fighting for her life at Palmetto Health Richland Hospital after she was one of eight people shot in the Vista early Saturday.
Denise Massey was here visiting the Midlands from Kentucky for the USC-Kentucky football game, but instead of cheering from the stands she ended up in the hospital after being caught in the middle of gunfire early Saturday morning.
It was first time visit to Columbia for Jimmy Brannon and Massey, his girlfriend. Brannon says the trip started off with a warm welcome even from the opposing team.
"A few people said, 'we want to welcome you to Columbia.' They saw we had UK shirts on, and they had on South Carolina shirts."
Friday night started out all fun and games.
"There was a bench over there that had 'Go Cocks' on it and so I said, 'give me a picture. I'm going to say Go Big Blue,'" Brannon said. "So, that's what we were doing. We were just laughing and cutting up."
Massey was up next. Jimmy says it's the last picture he took of her and just minutes later, "We heard pop, pop, pop and I didn't think much of that. I wasn't thinking of that. There was nothing around that looked like a quarrel or anything bad, at all."
Brannon realized the situation was more than bad when he turned around to find Denise.
"She goes down, but obviously it's with blood all over the place," Brannon said. "Why does that have to happen to it seems like, always, to the person that's the most innocent person in the world?"
Instead of going to the football game and making her way back home to Kentucky, Denise is now recovering at the hospital.
"The problem is she has a blood clot as a result of the injury to the carotid artery and they've been medicating that with the intention of dissolving it," Brannon said. "They're doing scans today as we speak. We hope to know later today whether that blood clot has resolved."
Doctors say the good news is the bullet missed her spinal cord and there's no neurological damage.
"She does know you're there. She'll grasp your hand," Brannon said. "She wakes up – opens her eyes, that kind of thing."
With two suspects in custody, one out on bond, and one in the hospital with an injury from the shooting, Jimmy says they're not his concern.
"I'm not one that's into the hatred. That doesn't do me any good. I want her home and well and you all can figure out what you do down here," says Brannon.
He says despite a bad first impression, he's not giving up on Columbia just yet.
"There's more good people in the world than there are bad people," Brannon said.
Brannon says the Gamecock Club has been very supportive, even d ropping off a care package to the hospital. He says strangers in the street have also bought him lunch just from seeing his story on the news.
So, he says he's definitely still seeing the good that Columbia has to offer.