Westside senior walks at graduation despite gunshot wound

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News 12 at 6 o' clock/ May 28, 2014

AUGUSTA, Ga.--It's graduation day for a lot of seniors across the area, but it's a bittersweet graduation day for a Westside senior and her family. Terriona Searles was shot in the leg while she was running away from gunfire at a private graduation party Sunday night at the James Brown Arena. Wednesday, she was back at the scene of the crime to get her diploma.

D' Onna Mitchell, Searles best friend, remembers hearing the gunfire that night. "We were all leaving out, next thing, it was just gunshots," she said.

Mitchell was at the private party, standing close to Terriona when the bullets started to fly.

"My mind was going everywhere. I was really scared. I didn't know, at first, she had got shot," she says.

Mitchell's dad, James Pauley, is thankful she wasn't shot, but he says the incident has shaken her. "She has not gotten over it yet," he says, "As a matter of fact, I had to take her to the doctor."

As excited graduates crossed the stage, some were on edge, afraid a retaliation shooting may happen at Westside's graduation.

D'Marco Gresham says, "Some people were worried about coming out here, because what happened the other day."

Terriona made it to graduation. She was afraid she would have to use crutches or a wheelchair because the bullet went straight through her leg, but she hobbled across the stage with her friends cheering her on.

"I was very happy to see her walk across he stage," Mitchells aid.

Worried parents like Pauley are just hoping this will be a wake up call, not only for students, but for parents too.

"The parents need to band together and start doing what they're supposed to do for their own kids," he says.

As of now, there hasn't been an arrest in this case. Deputies are still interviewing witnesses.