A modest request for help

Last week a reader and lifelong resident of St. Paul wrote us. He is a regular customer of the busy SuperAmerica outlet on Snelling Avenue just north of Highway 94 in the Hamline-Midway neighborhood. On Thanksgiving Jason Gatrell was working the afternoon shift with his younger brother when Jason jumped in to protect his brother from an armed robber. In the ensuing melee Jason was shot in the neck. The robbery was reported in the local papers; the Star Tribune’s November 29 story with a blurred photo of the perpetrator is here.

Our reader wrote us when he discovered that Jason still had a feeding tube in his throat. “I only knew his first name,” he wrote, “but Jason was always so friendly and we always exchanged pleasantries. In recent months I even talked with him about how he should be in the trades where he could earn a decent living. His grandmother, who is the manager of the SuperAmerica, asked me to keep encouraging him.”

The reader worried that Jason must be getting hammered financially. He politely asked a reporter or two who had covered the robbery to update the story on Jason’s case. He wanted to publicize the GoFundMe page that had been set up to help Jason (“I donated but was shocked how little he raised”). He thought “many would donate something no matter how small if they just knew this story.”

Today brings good news. The Star Tribune has run the follow-up story “St. Paul man recovering from Thanksgiving shooting.” The story provides a detailed account of Jason’s shooting. This is one remarkable young man.

And the story notes that Jason is making progress. Chao Xiong reports: “When feeding tubes were finally removed on Dec. 20, his mother prepared a special meal: ham and potatoes. But still weakened by the attack that fractured a vertebra in his neck, Gatrell had to pulverize his dinner in a food processor.” He even hopes to return to work this week.

The story also posts a link to the GoFundMe page: “Kathryn Debruycker, a family friend, started a GoFundMe page to help Gatrell with medical costs not covered by his insurance. ‘When something like that happens, it goes on the news, people see it and then it’s forgotten about,’ Debruycker said. ‘And you still have the victim, the aftermath, the trauma and the recovery. … I just wanted to help him out.'”

Our reader is quoted briefly in the Star Tribune story. I asked him if he wanted to add anything. He writes this morning: “I was shocked to learn not many had donated. I reached out to Power Line because as a daily reader since 2004 I know that conservatives are the most generous givers. Power Line has posted those facts. I hoped by trying to advance this story I could help this young man stave off what could be very hard financial times he is suffering through no fault of his own.”

He also noted that he was “happy to report that today’s Star Tribune article has already led to some donations. No matter how little the donations could lift his sprits by just letting him know that people care.”

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