Shooting spree survivor remembers horrors of 19 years ago

A former Chapel Hill police officer is sharing her survival story of a shooting that still haunts her.
May 13, 2014 12:46:24 PM PDT
She survived one of the most horrific shooting sprees in our state's history. Now a former Chapel Hill police officer is sharing her survival story.

Demetrise Stephenson Cobb is one of several people who stared down the barrel of a rifle back in Jan. 1995. That's when UNC law student Wendell Williamson opened fired near Franklin Street in Chapel Hill.

Williamson was armed with a semi-automatic rifle. He opened fire, killing two people.

"I kept hearing bullets," said Stephenson Cobb. "I mean, they sounded like bombs. It took a lot for me to get through being shot at, and then losing part of my hand. I lost 60-percent use of my hand."

A bullet pierced the former Chapel Hill police officer's left hand on that ill-fated day. Crouched down in her squad car, she would survive, but barely.

"I didn't know how many times he had shot at me, but I do know the sound of the bullets were getting closer," said Stephenson Cobb. "I knew he was about to walk up on my car. I felt like I was going to lose my life at that point. "

Her life was saved by her fellow officers, who shot Williamson in the legs, and a Good Samaritan that tackled him.

"To be honest with you, I said a quick prayer and it was like instantly the bullets stopped," said Stephenson Cobb.

However, the terror of that day lives on-- even today. It's filled the pages of her journal, and now a new book with a powerful message.

"Knowing that this one event didn't break me so to speak," said Stephenson Cobb.

No longer able to fight crime, Cobb endured agonizing years of physical therapy. Determined not to give up, she used her horrific experience to help children. Today she's a school counselor.

Her book, she says, is about her journey to faith, and forgiveness.

"I've forgiven Wendell, and never had a conversation with him," said Stephenson Cobb. "Never wanted to read his book."

In his book, Williamson blamed his mental illness for that violent day on Franklin Street.

Stephenson Cobb isn't entirely convinced, but she is of one thing:

"Continue this fight on this Earth to bless people, to encourage people," said Stephenson Cobb.


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