WXRT’s Hemmert, wounded friend to fly home after New Orleans shooting: ‘None of us … will ever be the same’

“There was blood. And a bullet hole on the wall. Two inches from me. And a bullet in my friend’s back,” Terri Hemmert posted on Facebook. “It was surreal. But it was real. Only too real.”

SHARE WXRT’s Hemmert, wounded friend to fly home after New Orleans shooting: ‘None of us … will ever be the same’
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Terri Hemmert

Sun-Times

Just days after her 75th birthday celebration at a New Orleans restaurant was “interrupted by a hail of bullets” that killed a waiter, Chicago radio personality Terri Hemmert plans to fly home with a friend who was wounded in the shooting.

Hemmert lamented that “we will never get over it.”

“My excellent travel agent and friend rearranged our travel plans so my friend with a bullet in her back will not have to travel alone,” the WXRT radio host posted on Facebook. “We will both be in wheel chairs, first class, with complimentary adult beverages.

“My neighbor will pick us up. I will reunite with my cat and friends. She will embrace her sons and father. But none of us at that gathering will ever be the same.”

The shooting occurred Friday outside Mandina’s Restaurant in New Orleans’ Mid-City neighborhood. Police said they believe two people targeted a waiter who was killed by the gunfire. Family members identified him as Hilbert Walker III, 23.

Hemmert, who was in New Orleans celebrating her birthday, wrote about the harrowing experience on Facebook.

“Twenty-eight of my precious friends were hitting the floor,” Hemmert wrote in her post. “I looked to my right. Two very special women were on the floor by my feet. There was blood. And a bullet hole on the wall. Two inches from me. And a bullet in my friend’s back. It was surreal. But it was real. Only too real.

“Someone died,” she continued. “Nobody we knew. But somebody’s son. Somebody’s brother. I will spare you some details, but the point here is that when you get tired of hearing about these shootings think again.”

A private security guard returned fire and was not injured. The name of Hemmert’s friend was not released. She was taken to a local hospital in stable condition, New Orleans police said.

No one was reported in custody.

The shooting came on the first day of the two-weekend New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, one of the busiest tourist periods in the city.

Hemmert, a longtime DJ at WXRT known as “Auntie Terri” to her legions of fans, began her post by saying, “What I did on my spring vacation. I went to New Orleans. I did not go to the Jazz and Heritage Festival. I did not eat Crawfish Monica. I did start my big birthday party. It was interrupted by a hail of bullets.

“It’s no longer a figure of speech when you say you dodged a bullet,” Hemmert wrote. “And if someone says ‘this is not America’ or ‘this is not us,’ they had better duck. I’m not one to throw a punch, but there’s always a first time.

“I have a friend who will carry a bullet in her back. ... If you attend the Fest For Beatles you know my friend. ... I’ve known her since she was a 14-year-old.

“I’m pissed,” Hemmert continued. “I’m pissed at the madness. And I am grateful that every one of the 28 people I hold dear are living another day. My two friends and roommates this weekend and I are laying low. We’re not going to the fest. No restaurants, please. For now.”

Hemmert laced her post with calls to “do something about this epidemic.”

“There are a million stories I could share, but not ready. Maybe never. Just know that we are strong. That our loved ones have been so kind. And we will never get over it.”

Contributing: The Associated Press

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