MINNEAPOLIS (KSMP) - He grabbed Fox 9’s attention through an email with the subject line reading “help” followed by six exclamation points, sent from: Mr.OneWayOrNoWay7ShotsLaterI'mASurvivor.
"I was just kind of fishing, kind of surprised that I got a response," said Darell Reed, who is stuck in a room 24 hours a day, his only views the walls and the ceiling.
But for anyone who visits him, he smiles like he just won the lottery.
“I wake up every day smiling," he said. "I go to sleep smiling."
It's one of the few motions he has left. Typing on his phone with a stylus is another.
He's been without the use of his arms or legs since 2012, anxiously waiting to get a better-fitting wheelchair so he can get out more.
"He doesn't go outside," said his girlfriend, Jamie Martin. "How he sees outside is what you're looking at on those t.v. cameras."
Reed’s window to the world is a video monitor with different views of security cameras looking to the outside, leaving only by ambulance to go to medical appointments.
County Human Service records show Reed's been getting the run around on a new wheel chair for almost 3 years.
"They just told me to be patient and my response to that was, 'All I know is patience,'" he said.
As a teenager he was anything but patient, stealing his first pick-up truck at age 19. The police chase that followed approached 90 mph on city streets, ultimately ending in a crash that injured several innocent people.
According to records, when cops interviewed Reed he repeatedly asked how the people who got hurt were.
He began to cry and showed genuine remorse for his actions, making a comment that he wished he had died.
LIFE’S UNEXPECTED TWIST
However, it wasn't the crash that left him a quadriplegic--it was his allegiance to a childhood friend who was struggling with his own demons.
Late one night, Reed found his friend watching a blank TV screen.
"He was just sitting there staring at it, laughing and smiling and having a conversation," Reed recalled.
It was the first sign that his friend was suffering from a mental illness. Eventually, the problem mushroomed into problematic behavior and, ultimately, attempted murder.
In the police video, an investigator asks Reed’s friend, "Does that make sense as to why you're here?”
“I don't know what you're talking about," the friend responds.
The confused looking young man in the law enforcement video is Adrian Bell, and he was being questioned about a shooting.
"Do you understand what I just said to you?”, asked the investigator.
Bell doesn’t respond.
After detectives left the room, Bell remained frozen in a near catatonic state for seven minutes.
When they returned, they again asked him about the shooting.
"He says you're his friend," the investigator says. "He says you're like brothers. He says you shot him. That's why you're here today."
Earlier that day, Bell had walked into Reed's bedroom while he was napping, took aim at his best friend with a handgun then squeezed the trigger.
"I woke up to the first shot," Reed said. "In my face, my cheek right here.”
Bell fired off seven shots, then turned and walked out of the apartment.
Meanwhile, Reed was rushed to Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis in critical condition after some of the bullet fragments entered his spinal canal.
"I try not to think about it because I don't try to maintain too much negative energy," Reed said.
Bell ended up at St. Peter State Hospital where he was treated for Schizophrenia, later pleading guilty to attempted first degree murder. He is currently serving prison time.
FINDING HIS PURPOSE
Reed’s family and friends said he's come to accept his situation.
"I really don't see any anger, any sadness, any depression none of that," said Martin. "He's always happy with a smile on his face."
He recorded a song titled, "Please don't shoot," after spending time as a rapper before his disability. He even has a record label: "One Way, Doe City Entertainment."
"Pray for my city they dying each and every day,” he sings. "Social media, the television are toxic. Pray for my city these young brothers heartless. Focus on education and try to retain the knowledge."
He hopes it will resonate with his own young son and daughter, who have lived to see dozens of their father's friends and relatives get shot, including Reed's great grandmother in Chicago.
His dream is to go out into the community and tell his story to young people, hopign to inspire them to do something positive with their lives no matter what darkness they're facing.
"Even after experiencing something so tragic you can still make the best of the situation," he said.
For the first time in a very long time, it looks like Reed will get that new wheelchair.
He's scheduled for an appointment at Gillette specialty healthcare to get fitted for it-- a complicated process that includes molds of certain body parts, not to mention actually building the chair.
It could be several months before it's ready, but Reed is already smiling at the prospect of what this means. He said he longs for the day when he can get in a wheelchair, sit outside and feel the warmth of the sun on his face.
"First thing I'm going to do when I get my new chair is just get in it and go somewhere," he said. "Anywhere."