JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A mother of two shot several times while standing outside her Eureka Gardens apartment continues to fight for her life in a Jacksonville hospital.
Jessica Nelson, 20, was one of seven people injured two weeks ago when, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, three people opened fire in the parking lot of the housing development.
Nelson, who was shot in the stomach, has a 4-week-old daughter and a 17-month-old girl.
Her fiance was grazed by a bullet during the mass shooting as he rushed Nelson's older daughter to safety inside the house.
“There was blood everywhere. It was everywhere,” Nelson's mother, Brenda Nelson, said. “We've been in the apartment since then, and that was probably one of the hardest things -- other than having to deal with this.”
“This” is Jessica Nelson's continued fight for survival at UF Health Hospital. She had her 14th surgery Wednesday.
“I don't think I have any more tears. I really don't,” Brenda Nelson said. “I've cried so much, and I have to be strong for her, so I have to keep it under control.”
Brenda Nelson said it could be months or years before her daughter recovers.
Jessica has lost a kidney, half of her colon and half of her pancreas. She may lose one of her ovaries, and her liver is not functioning properly.
But doctors can’t even consider doing a transplant right now, because she’s riddled with infection, Brenda Nelson said.
She said Jessica is aware of what’s going on. Her daughters are being cared for by a relative, and she hasn't held them or seen them, except in pictures, since the shooting.
“I try to keep everything upbeat. Sometimes I do have to talk to her about it, but I do try to keep everything upbeat,” Brenda Nelson said. “She can't do anything but nod her head or shake a hand, because she's still on a ventilator.”
Brenda Nelson said she has been basically living out of the hospital since the shooting.
“With all the injuries she suffered, and all of the problems that she's had, there's really no estimation,” she said.
She said the night of the shooting is mostly a blur.
“I don't remember getting dressed. I don't remember the trip over there (to the apartment complex). I don't remember the trip here (to the hospital). I was completely out of it,” Brenda Nelson said.
With the shooters still out there, Brenda Nelson said her daughter’s fiance has been too scared to go out.
“He won't hardly leave unless he absolutely has to,” she said. “He's so worried something is going to happen while he's gone.”
She said police haven't told her too much about the investigation, but they have been checking in on Jessica's progress.
Brenda Nelson said she wants whoever put her daughter in the hospital to do the right thing and surrender to police.
“You need to turn yourself in, admit what you did, grow up and be a man,” she said. “It's horrible. You destroyed a family, absolutely destroyed it. She'll never be the same.”
The family has set up a GoFundMe page to help with baby supplies and hospital expenses. To donate, go to https://www.gofundme.com/2f3tcqas.