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This woman ran into gunfire to protect someone else's kids

Dustin Dwyer

 This is the second in a three-part series from State of Opportunity about a gun battle that happened in Muskegon on July 9th, and how violence continues to plague the city. Part one of the series is here

I met Carmesha Rogers as she recovered in her room at Hackley Hospital in Muskegon. She was surrounded by humming medical equipment and cellophane balloons. She was hooked up to tubes, but she was able to sit up in a chair to talk.

This was less than a month after a bullet hit her in the head, and  passed through her brain.

I asked how she was feeling. 

"Kinda tired now," she said. "But I’m all right."

She could walk, she could talk.

Her mother, Leandrea Trainor says it’s been an amazing recovery, miraculous considering what the doctor told her to expect.

"That night after surgery, (the doctor) came and told me and my husband that it’s touch and go," Trainor says. "He said right now, if she make it up outta here, she going to be a vegetable, and there’s a good chance she won’t make it. And I told him I didn’t want to hear that."

That night, when Trainor first saw her daughter, she hardly recognized her under all the tubes and hospital equipment. She fainted at the sight.

"I couldn’t believe that was her up under there,"  Trainor says.

That first night, no one really knew what led to Rogers getting shot. Rogers couldn’t tell the story. Police were still sorting out the details.

Credit Dustin Dwyer
Police markings on the street show where one shooter stood during the gunfight in Muskegon on July 9th. Three children were playing on the porch in the background when the shots rang out. Carmesha Rogers went into the line of fire to push the children inside the house.

But what they learned later is that Rogers was not at all in harm’s way when the gunfight broke out in front of her house on Monroe Avenue.

She was on a second floor balcony. She saw the three kids playing on the porch downstairs. She saw guns coming out. She saw that the kids were in the line of fire.

"And I was basically watching everything unfold as it was happening," Rogers says. "And I seen them kids, and I tried to yell at them at the top of the steps, but  … my words weren’t getting out, so I had to go down there  get them out the way."

Police say at least six men were armed during the fight in the middle of the street. As many as 30 rounds went off, in all directions.

And Carmesha Rogers ran toward the bullets, to grab the three children and physically push them in the house.

"I didn’t have a thought," she says. "Just get the kids out the way. 'Cause I’d want someone to do that for my kids."

Rogers says she remembers pushing the kids into the house. Then things went black. The bullet hit her in the back of the head as she got back into the house.

"She’s our hero," says Heather Tanner, the mother of two of the boys out on the porch that day. "She saved our children."

Tanner and the parents of the other child have been telling the story to anyone who will listen. One of those parents, Jim Ridge, says Rogers deserves more credit.

Credit Dustin Dwyer
Not only was Carmesha Rogers hit in the head during the gunfight, her van was also struck twice. Police say as many as 30 bullets went off during the incident, spraying in all directions.

 "None of us are rich," he says. "None of us have a million dollars, we can hand her and say thank you -  which I would if I could. But I guess my thank you in a way is get it out there, nationwide, what she did."

Ridge says he knows shootings happen every day in America.

"But somebody that does what she did, that’s rare in America," he says. "Or anywhere else."

 Carmesha Rogers says she was just being a parent, even though the kids on the porch weren’t her kids.

Her kids almost lost their mom.

But yesterday, they got their mom back. After more than a month in the hospital Rogers got to go home, and she hopes to make a full recovery.

Check back for part three of our story on violence in Muskegon tomorrow on our State of Opportunity page

Dustin Dwyer reports enterprise and long-form stories from Michigan Public’s West Michigan bureau. He was a fellow in the class of 2018 at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard. He’s been with Michigan Public since 2004, when he started as an intern in the newsroom.