America’s issue with gun violence now has a face in survivor Maggie Carrie Heckstall.
The 26-year-old aspiring singer was shot while out with friends at a T.I. concert in May, leaving her with both physical and emotional scars. Initially not wanting to speak out about the incident, which resulted in one dead and three wounded, the New Jersey resident will share her story on MTV’s “True Life: I’ve Been Shot,” the network’s response to the high rates of gun violence plaguing young African Americans today.
Tuesday’s installment of the long-running docuseries will follow Maggie just five weeks after being shot in the leg, an injury which rapidly transformed her already traumatic life. After losing her mother at age 9, she now cares for her bed-bound brother, who struggles from diabetes, all the while serving as a model on MTV’s “Wild ‘N Out” and dreaming of becoming a musical artist.
Wanting to fulfill her dreams, Maggie pushes herself to remain positive on the episode and decides to receive counseling for post-traumatic stress. And after struggling to get back into music, she finds the encouragement she needs to create a new song. Now, several months after being shot, Maggie tells International Business Times she’s still on the path to recovery, and continues to remain positive about the future, including America’s current gun violence climate.
While Maggie remains hopeful U.S. gun laws will change to protect the public, she remains unconvinced the deadly weapons can be completely removed from the streets.
“I know we can get some of them off the street. If we can wipe the streets clean than all Hail Mary, but I don’t think that’s going to happen,” she told IBT. “I’m not the type of person that will be like, ‘We need to get these guns off the street’ because I feel like it’s always going to happen, no matter what.”
Similar to her thoughts expressed on the series, Maggie believes venues, such as the New York City’s Irving Plaza where she was shot, should up their security by increasing the use of metal detectors to help keep the public safer. While mainly angry with the venue and its owners (who Maggie says did not reach out to apologize following the deadly incident) she admits she does also have equally strong feelings about the person responsible for her injuries, who police allege to be Roland Collins, also known as rapper Troy Ave.
The shooter, which I don’t know who he is, but to open gunfire in a crowded room without a care for anyone else, that upsets me. It was innocent people. Someone got shot before I got shot, someone died. That’s carelessness.
Post-shooting, Maggie says she’s slowly stepping back into the party scene and safety has become her biggest concern. “Your parents and your loved ones always told you, ‘Be safe’ and you’ll be like, ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’ll be safe.’ I’m really going to abide by that ‘Be safe.’ I can’t go out. I can’t drink too much. I really have to pay attention my surroundings. You never know what could happen. You never know.”
In response to her trauma, Maggie sought out counseling (she’s currently in between doctors), has been working on strengthening her leg in the gym, and she says she’s already well on her way to getting back to the “old Maggie,” which means new music may soon be on the way. While her leg, which still has the bullet in it, has prevented her from going on the long plane ride to Los Angeles to record new tracks, she continues to spend her days songwriting.
“I always say it could have been worse” she shares her life day-to-day motto. “I cannot be broken. There are still bad things, bad things are going to happen, but if we don’t have bad days we can’t appreciate the good days.”
“True Life: I’ve Been Shot” premieres Tuesday at 10 p.m. EDT on MTV.