By Jeremy Pittari, Item Staff Writer
The Picayune Item
Medical personnel were teaching a local man how to swallow again on Saturday after his spinal cord was severed by a .22 caliber bullet, fired by one of three juveniles, on Thursday.
Aaron James Tanguis, 21, of Picayune was shot Thursday afternoon while working at his new job at Friction Stir Link in Slidell, La. A press release from the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Department, which did not list the name of the victim, states when the 911 came in, operators believed that the victim had suffered a work place injury, but when medical personnel examined the wound it was determined to be a gunshot to the upper back.
Deputies canvassed the area and from a witness’ learned that three juveniles were seen carrying two rifles into the wooded trail near the business. The release states the three juveniles, aged 12, 13, and 15, were located and questioned in front of their parents. They were charged with one count each of negligent injuring and illegal use of weapons after admitting all three had fired a .22 caliber rifle in the direction of Friction Stir Link, a business located off of Camp Villere Road, in Slidell. They are being held at the Florida Parishes Juvenile Detention Center.
The mother of the victim, Amy Tanguis, said her son is now paralyzed from the neck down and as of Saturday Charity Hospital rehabilitation personnel were teaching him how to swallow again. “It’s so unfair that something like this would happen to him,” Amy Tanguis said.
She said she suspects the juveniles could have been aiming at Aaron Tanguis when they fired the gun, since the bullet almost hit him in the head. Instead it severed his spinal cord, paralyzing his legs and most likely his arms, she said. The bullet might never be removed, since medical personnel fear removing it may cause more damage, Amy Tanguis said.
“I pray to God that those kids and their families realize what they done,” Amy Tanguis said. “They need to know that life is not a video game. They can’t just put the controller down and walk away.”
Aaron Tanguis had just started that job, hoping to raise enough money to get his own place and to attend the University of Southern Mississippi to continue his education in criminal justice, Amy Tanguis said. He was a graduate of Pearl River Community College, which he attended under a scholarship that he received for his good behavior and exceptional personality, his mother said. Aaron Tanguis planned to join the military to help pay for his continued education to either become a police officer or go into the FBI, she said.
“I pray to God this isn’t going to stop him,” Amy Tanguis said.
Aaron Tanguis has had hurdles to overcome in the past, including a stroke he had before he was born, his mother said.
“He’s had to work a little bit harder than the average person to get where he’s at,” Amy Tanguis said.