Irvin Walker feels lucky to be alive after a bullet pierced his chest close to his heart and left fragments behind.
Walker and staff at the hospital system who treated him and other patients spoke publicly about the tragedy for the first time on Tuesday.
Walker suffered several wounds when the gunman — identified as 33-year-old Mauricio Garcia — stepped out of his car and opened fire in the parking lot with an AR-15 variant rifle. Walker was trying to find a spot to park after dropping his girlfriend off at the Allen Premium Outlets.
Walker was shot twice in the chest, with one of the bullets hitting him close to the heart, and one in the shoulder. Doctors operated on him to remove bullet fragments but had to leave some in his body.
“If either of those fragments had gotten any deeper, he may have not possibly been here today,” said Dr. Elizabeth Kim, the trauma medical director at Medical City McKinney, about the bullet fragments Walker had in the protective membrane closest to his heart.
Walker said he got out of his car after he was shot to seek help.
A security guard tried to assist him, according to Walker’s attorney, Daryl Washington. It’s believed that the security guard was 20-year-old Christian LaCour, one of the victims who was fatally shot. Allen Police Chief Brian Harvey said that LaCour “evacuated one individual to safety and was shot while courageously remaining to help others.”
In a GoFundMe created for Walker, his family announced he was in stable condition after his surgery to remove bullet fragments was successful.
Walker donned a big grin on his face Tuesday in a press conference at Medical City McKinney. “I’m just grateful to be here,” he said.
“In a matter of minutes, our community was shaken and lives were changed forever,” said Cassidi Summers at the conference. “A matter of minutes could have altered the course of my life.”
Summers, chief nursing officer at Medical City McKinney, was at the Allen Premium Outlets with her family less than 30 minutes before the shooting and was among the first of the hospital staff to respond.
“We immediately stood up the command center,” Summers said. “This allowed us to coordinate staffing, decompress the emergency department, manage family and visitors, and deploy appropriate supplies and resources so that our staff could focus on the high quality of care that our patients needed at the time.”
Kim was also with family and loved ones when she responded to the shooting and arrived at Medical City McKinney. She was at a wedding reception and immediately left after hearing about the tragedy to coordinate care for patients.
“Once I arrived, I could really see that the training and the drills that we had done in our trauma center described good care for our patients and was very apparent,” Kim said. “We were able to effectively take care of seven sick patients almost simultaneously and provide excellent care to all of them.”
Medical City McKinney, less than three miles from the Allen Premium Outlets, received eight patients from the May 6 shooting, according to Janet St. James, assistant vice president of the hospital’s communication department.
“As soon as I entered this hospital, medical professionals expressed the highest level of love for me,” Walker said.
Walker was the hospital’s first of the eight patients. Two of the patients the hospital received did not survive.
“It’s a horrible situation — it hurts to see people have to suffer and see their family and their kids pass away,” Walker said about the other victims.
“You had a smile there that I saw when I came in that room,” Kim told Walker at the conference. “And it really was one of the bright parts of that day.”
Walker was surrounded by family members, his daughter, his fraternity brothers, and administration and hospital staff at the conference as he spoke about his recovery. He is in better condition and will begin rehabilitation to improve his mobility.
“He still has a long way to go in his recovery,” said Kim.
“I continue thanking people in advance, using their expertise to repair my body, my spirit, my hope,” said Walker about the hospital staff who treated him and the support he has received from loved ones. “I think this event was evidence of evil not winning.”
Walker said he has been receiving support from people on a global scale.
“It’s incredible what we can do if we unify,” Walker said. He has been receiving prayers from people all over the U.S. and even from people in the United Kingdom.
“Anytime I’m in trouble, I call on the Lord,” Walker said about his reaction when he was shot. “I just began to praise Him and be thankful, fortify Him.”
He said his faith is what has helped him throughout his recovery.
“I believe you give love, you get love,” said Walker.
Walker, 46, is originally from Lafayette, Louisiana, and currently lives in Lewisville. He worked in insurance and says helping others is the work of his life. He asks people to keep the community in their prayers.
“There are people that are involved that are impacted by this,” Walker said. “We just want you guys to keep them lifted.”
Kim believes extensive training helped the hospital staff in treating patients from the shooting.
“We partner with local police and EMS and we go through mass casualty events and scenarios where we have patients mock up and we bring them all in and we practice through those things,” said Kim. “I mean, those are the tests that we hope that we never have to go through. But, you know, I’m very proud we were prepared and it’s something that we do on an annual basis and we’ll continue to enhance our program from this and learn lessons.”