Pandemic slows 2nd year of bank shooting survivor's crusade

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Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

FILE- In this Aug. 12, 2019 file photo, Whitney Austin, a survivor of a Sept. 6, 2018 Cincinnati bank shooting that claimed three other lives and wounded another person, demonstrates the newly required ability to give a "thumbs up, during an interview in Cincinnati. Although Austin has made impressive gains in her recovery from 12 close-range gunshots, progress in the former bank executives new lifes mission of combatting gun violence has been slowed by the pandemic. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

CINCINNATI – While Whitney Austin has made impressive gains in her recovery from 12 close-range gunshots, progress in the former bank executive’s new life’s mission has been slowed by the pandemic.

Frustrated over increases in gun violence in recent months and lack of movement on gun ownership reform legislation, she remains active and dedicated to helping achieve change. Her Whitney/Strong Foundation will stage a second annual benefit gala this month, although virtually this time, with a combination of shooting survivors and artists.

Austin, meanwhile, can celebrate the apparent end of her surgeries a few months ago and having a right arm that is finally metal-free, and as a result, ache-free.

And that she survived the Sept. 6, 2018, Fifth Third Bank shooting that claimed three other lives and wounded another person.

“I still see all my scars; it’s impossible to forget that it happened to me,” said Austin, who still lacks full movement in her right arm and retains some numbness in her left thumb and elsewhere. “But most of what it impacts on my body, it’s totally things I can live with.”

She has made public recorded interviews with the Cincinnati Police officers who rescued her, killing the gunman in a hail of gunfire and getting her to medical aid quickly, this month. Now 39, she called for first responders to save her for her children, now 7 and 9.

“I got what I wanted out of that moment,” she said in a recent AP interview. “I got to come back home to my children and to my husband (Waller) and I somehow miraculously found a way to professionally live a life of purpose as a way to give back.”

She still avoids viewing news footage of gun violence, and the sound of fireworks can upset her. After coming so near death, the deadly coronavirus can be unsettling.