Victim of shooting at Iowa Smoke Shop speaks out

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - A survivor from a shooting in May in Cedar Rapids that left two people dead spoke about her experience, with a goal of trying to curb future gun violence.

Kayla Panos-Blackcloud, a survivor of the May 2019 shooting at the Iowa Smoke Shop in Cedar Rapids, speaks at the Cedar Rapids Public Library on Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019 (Brian Tabick/KCRG)

Kayla Panos-Blackcloud is one of four people who were shot on May 18, 2019, at the Iowa Smoke Shop near the Kirkwood Campus. Royal Abram and Matrell Johnson died from their injuries. 26-year-old Andre Richardson is facing charges in those murders.

“I was shot in the head and I remember a lot of screaming,” Panos-Blackcloud said while speaking at a Moms Demand Action meeting at the Cedar Rapids Public Library.

Her memory of the night is foggy as she continues to recover from head injuries she sustained.

“I don’t have the full use of my left hand yet, but it’s getting better,” Panos-Blackcloud said. “I need to speak and get around and talk to people and say this is not the way we should do it.”

“When you actually know someone that has been shot it’s very important,” said Christine Lehman-Engledow, a Leader with the Cedar Rapids Moms Demand Action. “People think this doesn’t happen in their communities.”

It’s that notion and the support from friends and family that keeps Panos-Blackcloud moving forward.

“I won’t give up because of everyone’s prayers and support,” Panos-Blackcloud said.