Wes meeting his shooter.
The day Wes met his shooter, Maurice.

The Day I Met My Shooter

Meeting the man that shot me wasn’t an easy thing to do.

Yes, I was in a great place in my life and knew that doing this one thing would set me free. But reality is—I’m from the streets and understand the street code. This meetup wasn’t supposed to happen. It’s not a common thing for those in my community to face one another after something so violent, only to make amends. Come on now! By society’s views, you know the reality—what should have went down is complete retaliation. My people after him. His people after me. A war started due to one’s emotions and another’s reactions.

Then I called BULLSHIT on ALL that. It was time to do something different even if I needed a little help. I’ve died and came back a whole different person. I understand my body is a vessel, and I am supposed to take risks, raise eyebrows, and start up uncomfortable conversations. This is my life now. I’m destined to change the way my people view themselves and empower them to be okay with who they are.

is shooter, Maurice.

The drive to the meeting with Karamo was a little tense.
The drive to the meeting with Karamo was a little tense.

You have to be in a great mental place in life to be able to thank someone who changed yours forever. Agreeing to talk to Maurice would not have been possible if I didn’t know, love, and accept myself first. I knew the blessings that my life has received since my accident—things that would have never happened if I wasn’t in this position.

In meeting Maurice, I allowed myself to be completely vulnerable and face ultimate humility. It was so easy to put the blame on this “stranger” that shot me as I was walking to my car that day. But, what type of man would I be if I didn’t take accountability for my actions? The person who shot me was called over to the place where I ended up being paralyzed. That meant I had time to leave. Instead, being the emotional wreck I was because of a toxic relationship, my ego got the best of me.

I cannot control someone else’s actions—only my own. That day, my emotions were all over the place. I never took into account the lives of my best friend who I called over, his kid’s mother, the people at the complex. Hell, even myself. I was ruthless, and I vowed to be respected. They say sometimes our responses are the reason why we exist. The response from my hurting heart was just hate and anger. That was a sad life I don’t want anything to do with again.

Serious conversation with Karamo.

So, the day Maurice and I met was a really tough one. That morning at 6 a.m. I received a call from my dad. He told me one of my favorite cousins had passed. That hit like a dagger in my heart. I was crushed. And on top of that, it was another big filming day with Netflix’s Queer Eye. I had to keep my composure. I knew it was going to be a big day. But damn! Being surrounded so much by death my whole life, you would think hearing the news wouldn’t have hit me so hard. But it did. And that day I didn’t want to do nothing.

First up, we went and cut my hair. Without any time to grieve, I sucked it up and put on my best appearance. The last time I had my hair cut was the day I was shot. So you can understand the emotions, right? Well, having my mom and daughter there with me helped me cope for that moment. After that, there was such a large window of time before my meetup with Maurice that I became an emotional mess. My cousin’s death hit me so hard that I felt weak.

I remember being picked up by Karamo of the Fab Five, and we began riding around KC and conversing. Now I guess in the TV biz they like to keep things secret. So no one told me where we were going. The conversation started focusing on the day of my accident, and I knew what was about to go down. And I was not ready. So many times I tried to talk Karamo out of it. I told him, “Man this can’t happen today. I am full of emotions and don’t want to speak out of context.”

Karamo got out the car for a minute as we stopped by a local coffee shop. That’s when I texted the Netflix producer and tapped out. She called me and told me to pray about it. Pray? That was the first time I’d heard anyone tell me that on that day. So I rolled to the back of the coffee shop and did just that. I prayed to my cousin and asked him to be there with me. I knew what I was doing was not common, and on top of that, I knew it would a HUGE moment.

The meetup with Maurice.

Once Karamo and I arrived at the meetup location, I knew there was no turning back. Then I noticed something powerful. I went into that building and faced Maurice, and it was like we had angels all around us. No negative energy—just cool vibes. We talked, and I got a better understanding of why things happened the way they did. Knowing what happened and already taking accountability for my actions, it wasn’t hard to decline an apology from Maurice. I mean, why would I want one?

Wes meeting his shooter.
The day Wes met his shooter, Maurice.

I am grateful for the life I was given. It has opened up doors that would’ve remained closed if not for being shot. I now have the ability to empower the youth coming from my boyhood community, showing them that opportunities come to whoever creates them and showing them how to be more than their circumstances. The best thing out of all of it is that now my community can see firsthand the power of forgiveness and the strength received when you become truly FREE.

As two black men, no one would have felt sorry if retaliation was the choice on the day I got shot. Another black man kills one of his own is all the headline would’ve said. But it didn’t happen that way.

There were so many headlines after my Queer Eye episode premiered. One that caught my eye and that I really felt.

‘Queer Eye’ changed this Kansas City shooting victim’s life — and mine, too


I think the lyrics from Nipsey Hussle say it best:

I never switched up the game/still remains the same/I just changed the message

Images courtesy of Netflix

Edited by Writing Help KC

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