More than a year and a half after a double homicide shooting, survivor Jaclyn Burden, 24, met with the first responders who saved her life.
Burden said March 15, 2017 was the most terrifying day of her life. Then just 22, Burden recalled that she was outside her Lake Travis home speaking with her landlord, Susan Gulla-O’Leary and her handyman, Randall Lee Burrows about a business dispute between them. Gulla-O’Leary told Burrows she was not satisfied with his work and wanted to pay him less, angering Burrows.
“At that point, I remember thinking this isn't going well and being uncomfortable and backing away from the situation and he had pulled out a gun from his vehicle and that's when I realized this has gone really, really horribly wrong," Burden said. "I remember him walking toward them and hearing them scream and the gun go off and I immediately turned and ran away."
Burden ran back inside her house and locked the door. A moment later, Burrows kicked down the door and shot Burden twice: once in the arm and then in the right side of her head. When Burden was released from surgery, she was told that both Gulla-O'Leary and her boyfriend Richard Guthrie were killed.
After fleeing from the police to Pike County, Mississippi, Burrows shot and killed himself in a field just outside of the town of Summit.
"When I woke up from the surgery I was completely paralyzed from the left side of my body I couldn't move my arm or my leg I couldn't move my neck and I was half blind in both eyes," said Burden. "I didn't just want to give up I guess I had to prove to myself and prove to other people around me that I wasn't just this poor innocent victim and this was it for my life."
After a year and a half of recovery, Burden is able to walk. She is now rehabilitating her left arm for mobility.
Burden said she wanted to share her story to inspire other survivors. "My message to other survivors would be that they've gone through a horrible trauma to find a silver lining of some sort,” Burden said. "My silver lining is that I guess before I was just a regular 22-year-old without a life goal or ambition I guess after this I found a purpose or meaning in my life."
Burden was also able to see the first responders who took care of her after the shooting, hugging each one.
"I feel like you all don't get thanked enough,” she told them. “I know a lot of times first responders go to an incident and the person either ends up deceased or they go on with their lives and they never actually take the time to go back and say thank you for saving me.”
Burden said she would like to create a non-profit in the future that help people with disabilities.
“My long term goals are to open a disability equipment company and a non profit charity to help people with disabilities accomplish something they have always dreamed of doing but feel like they can’t achieve because their disability is holding them back,” she said.
Burden has set up a GoFundMe to alleviate high medical costs she is facing. To visit Burden’s account, go to https://www.gofundme.com/jaclyn039s-recovery-fund.