John Cádiz Klemack
Jessica Evers says she’s trying to understand why she survived a shooting while still in her mother’s womb during the 1992 riots. John Cadiz Klemack reports from Compton for the NBC4 News at 11 p.m. on April 25, 2012.
Twenty years ago, amid the shock of the ongoing Los Angeles riots, there was a story that really grabbed headlines: The youngest victim of the violence had been shot while still in her mother’s womb.
On April 30, 1992, Elvira Evers, then 7 ½-months pregnant, watched her Compton block fill with vehicles laden with stolen loot. The nearby swap meet had turned into a free-for-all.
As she waited for her eldest son to come home that night, she pushed her 5-year-old daughter Nela into her home.
“I started getting nervous,” Elvira Evers said.
A minute later, she felt like her body was aflame. She’d been shot in the belly.
Amid the chaos occuring all over the South Los Angeles region, it would have taken 40 minutes for an ambulance to arrive, so a friend drove Evers to St. Francis Medical Center. She had an emergency caesarian section and didn’t wake up for a week.
When she finally opened her eyes, still in the hospital, she instantly began to cry.
“And I was just like, oh my God, my baby,” Evers said.
A nurse came to her side, asking, “Why are you crying?”
Evers thought she’d lost her baby. But she hadn’t, and the nurse took mother to child.
“I saw the baby and I touched her and I cried and I cried,” Evers said.
Today, Evers has a hidden mark from the 9 mm bullet that injured her. Her daughter, Jessica, now almost 20, has just a scar on her elbow.
“I get sad. Because 20 years ago, I was supposed to be dead. So I have to give God thanks,” Evers said.
Elvira Evers said the experience changed her, made her appreciate life more. Every year, every birthday, she remembers the riots and the circumstances of Jessica’s birth.
As for Jessica Evers, she feels her survival was for a purpose – one that she’s still trying to understand.
“As each day goes by,” Jessica Evers said, “I try to find out what I’m here for.”