JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - “I don’t do nothing to nobody. I will give you the clothes off of my back, bro. I don’t deserve this. I don’t deserve this at all man, this ain’t okay.”
Those are the words of 18-year-old Warren Fleming, who was supposed to be on his way to Starkville for his freshman year playing for the Mississippi State Bulldogs. Instead, he’s recovering from being shot in the back with a hunting rifle by people he doesn’t even know.
He was driving to his aunt’s house to finish packing. He had to be ready to meet his brother at 4:30 a.m. to get on the road. But Sunday night as he turned on to Cromwell from Ridgeway Street, he heard gunshots. He felt an impact and his back went numb as a bullet ripped through his lower back. He made it to her driveway and tried to get out of the car. He immediately pitched forward into the grass.
“I just laid there screaming for help. I told my auntie to run back in the house so she didn’t get shot,” Fleming said. “I told her I’d rather just sit outside and die rather than her come out here and have to worry about this. She can tell you it sounded like a war zone here in front of her house.”
The bullet missed his spine by two inches. Not only that, a jersey from his days at Hartfield Academy that he had put over his seat helped divert the bullet’s trajectory just enough to save his spine.
Fleming’s brother, Kenneth Short, is a 13-year police veteran. The former JPD officer was shot in the line of duty in December 2016. As a member of several specialized units, he’s seen violence first hand on every level. Seeing it happen to his little brother hit him hard.
“And it still hasn’t hit me completely,” he said. “But I’m just glad that he’s here. It could have went another way, but God seen different.”
Even though he no longer works for Jackson, something about living in the capitol city most of his life and seeing the escalating violence hurts him too.
“But it’s something that has to be done about what’s going on in our city. This is OUR city,” he said. “So I’m just calling on the city leaders to formulate a plan. Step up and do more than what you’re already doing.”
In a moment of emotion and what he said was excruciating pain, Fleming walked away from the cameras in a group, surrounded by family and friends. Overcome by that pain, he called out to his brother.
“Y’all better get them, bro. They can’t stand with this, man,” he said.
Until now, Jackson has been home for Warren Fleming, even when he and Short lost their home to flooding earlier this year.
But no more.
“I refuse to come back to Jackson once I get to Starkville,” he said. “My plan is to get a house away from here and not come back here.”
“People out here dying because of rap beef, and being in the wrong neighborhood, because you’re in this hood, you’re going to die... It’s ridiculous,” he said.
Short and Fleming are also working on ways to get their aunt to move out of the capitol city too. And they remember the time they weren’t afraid for her to be there.
“We used to walk these streets in this neighborhood every day. I’m talking about every day, man. I don’t know what would make anybody over here feel the need to put me in harm,” said Fleming.
But hopefully things will be different at school. On Monday morning, Short and other family members were working to get in touch with Fleming’s coaches. Mississippi State officials told Fleming not to hurry, that he needs to take care of himself first.
“I want to say thank you to Mississippi State for being such a loving family and taking care of me also,” he said.
After being two inches from losing his football career, his mobility, and his life, things looked up when Fleming’s doctor also told him he will play football again.