Warning: Some graphic images are included in this story.
PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Tracy Carman went to PSU, has lived in Portland for 8 years and loved bartending in downtown. She never felt unsafe leaving work at 4 a.m. until this past year.
On July 3, she and a friend were leaving a bar at 2:30 a.m. on Burnside, near SW 3rd and Ankeny when her life changed completely.
“We were approached by a group of guys, about 8 of them. And they started pulling me away,” Carman told KOIN 6 News.
Her friend tried to stop them and got punched in the face. As she continued to scream for help, another older bystander started to step in to confront the attackers.
“He tried to intervene and it just made it absolutely so much worse because he said, ‘Let go of her. She doesn’t want to go with you.’ But they were still dragging me away,” she said. “So he pulled out his gun and he shot in the air 4 or 5 times.”
One of the 8 men who were pulling her away returned gunfire. A total of 24 bullets were fired.
“They were shooting at my friend that was on the ground after he got punched,” Carman said. “I heard the shots and I told him, ‘Stay down!’ and I was running towards him.”
One of those two dozen bullets struck Carman right below her knee and sent her to the hospital for more than a week. She entered the hospital on her late mom’s birthday, celebrated her birthday in the hospital bed, and left on her dad’s birthday.
“Those 30 seconds completely changed my life forever,” she said.
While she can’t walk for 6 months, nor bartend or do what she loves, Carman realizes how lucky she is to be alive.
“There were 11 shootings that weekend,” Carman said. “Then a week later, 7 people got shot a block away, and 2 girls died. My friend was walking past it and saw it happen.”
Before she got shot, Carman was supposed to move to Thailand. But she had to move back to Seattle to live with her sister because she requires around-the-clock care.
She had two surgeries while she was in the hospital. She had an external device drilled into her femur and shin to hold it in place for 2 weeks. Carman is now in physical therapy 3 times a week.
“It’s still an uphill battle,” she said. “I wouldn’t even wish this on the person who shot me.”
But every month she said she’s regaining strength and is focused on recovery.
“As tragic and devastating as this has been, I am one of the lucky ones. So I always keep that in mind,” she said.
The night she was shot was a holiday weekend. It was a busy night. Many people were out and about. But no one has been identified, let alone arrested.
“These people are running loose, they’re free and they’re a danger to society,” she said.
Tracy Carman hopes bystanders — including the older bystander who tried to help — will leave an anonymous tip with Crime Stoppers.
“By not coming forward, you’re protecting these possible murderers — and that’s what’s terrifying,” she said. “It’s going to happen again and again. Your silence is protecting them.”
PPB is partnering with Crime Stoppers of Oregon to track down suspects. Crime Stoppers is offering a cash reward of up to $2,500 for any information leading to an arrest in any unsolved felony.
Submit an anonymous tip here.