By Jim Hagerty
ROCKFORD — There was nothing out of the ordinary about the way Sunday, Sept. 24, was playing out for Alzura Prunty.
She had just done a load of laundry before sitting down for dinner. That all changed around 7 p.m. when bullets rang out at a nearby park.
“I heard them shooting,” Alzura said. “I think I counted about 11 shots.”
She also counted the 12th. It was the slug that traveled more than a block and lodged itself in her left temple, just under her skull.
Still conscious, Prunty immediately found herself on top of her children to shield them from additional bullets. None would come, but a pool of blood soon collected in the second-floor apartment and forever stained the young family.
“My 10-year-old called 911,” she said.
Alzura’s father, Floyd Prunty, was at a nearby barbecue when a friend told them there’d been a shooting at his daughter’s building.
“I was told a woman had been possibly shot,” he said. “I knew there was only two you women who lived in the building so it was a 50/50 chance it could be my daughter.”
That’s when he turned and sprinted toward the 1600 block of Parmele Street. He literally stepped out of his shoes and left his car parked on a the street.
“When I got there, my granddaughter was putting a towel to her mother’s head,” Floyd said.
It wasn’t long before Alzura was at Rockford Memorial Hospital awaiting brain surgery to remove a .38 caliber slug from her head. Before the delicate procedure, Alzura knew those in the prayer circle around her bed may never see her again.
“It was scary,” she said. “They told me there was a chance I might not wake up.”
While more than 30 staples in her head, Alzura is lucky to be alive. But, just as she was not out of the woods when arriving at the hospital, she is still being monitored for possible seizures and other lasting issues the bullet may have caused. So far, she says fatigue has been her only drawback.
Floyd is finding ways to cope too. A combat veteran, he’s seen his share of carnage and the PTSD that’s come along with it. He now fears the bullet that nearly took claimed his daughter will leave her with the same mental health struggles. That’s why he’s calling on pastors to come out in vast numbers to instill what he says Rockford lacks: a sense of community.
“We’ve got to come together,” he said. “A lot of minds—10, 20, 100 are better than one. The urgency is now.”
Prunty is planning a peaceful walk through Rockford, a demonstration showing those displaying reckless behavior that now is time to take the streets back. Not through angry protests, however. And not by way of force. The people of Rockford have seen enough division and violence.
“I am appealing to the churches,” he said. “On the Sunday [the week before] the walk, I will ask them to bring their congregations out there.
“I am challenging clergy. It is a chance for them to show what they are really made of. Congregations like to come together when we are ready to have a big barbecue, or something in a park.”
But it’s time for something else.
“We need to come together for a cause,” he said. “And the cause is to save our streets—our children—and the city of Rockford, Illinois.”
Floyd also has a message for those who buy into the narrative that the police don’t do enough to solve crimes or prevent violence.
“They can’t do it alone,” Prunty said. “And for those who are complaining, ‘What have you done to improve things?’ The word has to go out.”
To the shooter who nearly left Alzura’s children without a mother, she has a two-pronged message, one that begins with three simple words.
“I forgive them,” Alzura said. “I mean, I had nothing to do with whatever they were arguing about. And I would also ask them if it was worth it.”
Floyd forgives them, too. But that does not mean he wants the crime to go unpunished.
“Anytime a young man puts a gun in his hand with the intention of killing another young man, but ends up hurting or killing an innocent bystander, there’s no doubt. There is something wrong with that person.”
Police say the bullet that hit Alzura Prunty was fired during an argument among several teens at Keye-Mallquist Park. The projectile traveled almost two blocks and ripped through hanging tree branches before going through her apartment window.
A date for the upcoming walk is pending. R.