Dec. 5 started out as a normal day for Cheryl Ruaylarp.
The 54-year-old woman had driven her daughter-in-law to work, spent time with her infant grandson and went with her husband to the store for laundry detergent.
When they returned about 11:35 a.m. and drove onto their driveway in the 1400 block of SW 65, an older, silver-toned Dodge Caravan blocked the driveway and a man approached them. Minutes later, Ruaylarp was shot in the back.
“I didn't know if I was going to die or what,” Ruaylarp said as tears trickled down her face. She is a patient in a metro-area rehabilitation center.
The bullet lodged in her back and fractured her spinal cord, her health care providers said. She is paralyzed from the abdomen down. Doctors opted to not remove the bullet.
“The man just came out of nowhere and he started beating on my windows, and said ‘Give me your purse; give me your wallet,' which I would have done,” Ruaylarp said. “But then he started pulling his gun trigger and there wasn't any bullets in the first two.”
As the would-be-robber tried to break the glass with his gun and his fist, Ruaylarp said she thought, “My God, what am I going to do?” She tried to pull into her garage but the man shot her.
Ruaylarp's husband, Nipone, told police there were at least two other men in the van during the confrontation and he saw the shooter run back into the van before it drove away.
No arrests have been made in the incident. The shooter is described as a black male in his mid-20s and about 5 feet, 6 inches tall, according to the incident report.
“He just got violent. I would have gladly given him my purse, my wallet, all those things can be replaced,” she said.
Ruaylarp's family, including her son's family, have lived in the home about four months. She said she was excited to move there because she thought it was a nice neighborhood.
Now, she is learning how to use a wheelchair and wears a spinal brace. Nipone Ruaylarp, 64, stays with her most evenings, but she hasn't seen her 4-month-old grandson since the assault. Her son's family still lives in the home.
“They have been terrified. They have had all the windows and doors bolted and they haven't gotten any sleep,” she said. “I won't feel safe there. Not until they get caught anyway.”
Cheryl Ruaylarp says she is now living for her grandson, her son and her husband.
“You just got to be cautious everywhere, no matter where, even in your own driveway, but I don't know what I could have done differently,” she said. “I need someone to help me get them off the street before they hurt someone really bad. I was hurt pretty bad but they may kill someone.”
Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 235-7300. Callers may be eligible for cash rewards.