FAIRFIELD, AL (WBRC) - Zo Shauku is loud and insightful in his views against gun violence.
"This is an issue everyone has to deal with," he says.
His voice of advocacy is now that of a victim of the very thing he fights against. He vividly remembers what happened just before 2 a.m. on July 16 as he was sound asleep in his Fairfield bed.
"I was waking up to the sound of bullets. There was a drive-by on my street," he says.
One of the bullets flew threw his window.
"At first, I thought it was a flesh wound, but I could feel it in me. I couldn't breathe because there was blood filling up my lung," Shauku said.
He ran to tell his dad who then called 911. As paramedics rushed him to the ER, Shauku says he began to reflect on his life and any regrets he had while thinking death was a possibility.
The bullet broke several of his ribs, collapsed his lung and today remains lodged near his spine. And he still has the psychological effects from that night.
"I still wake up screaming some nights from nightmares, I've started sleep walking, and I still flinch when I hear cars passing by," Shauku said.
He spent several days in ICU recovering, processing the irony of it all.
"I'm still kind of stunned, but I'm going to use this platform that I now have to definitely make sure our cause is furthered and strengthened because this shouldn't have to happen to anyone," he said.
Shortly after students were killed in the shooting in Parkland, Fla., Shauka became a fierce activist against gun violence. He even helped to form a group called Iron City Generation now.
On Tuesday, he shared his message of a hope for change. Using a walker and pushing through the pain he addressed speak at a meeting alongside victims of the Parkland shooting.
"I'm not saying we need to get rid of all guns - that's not technically feasible and/or politically achievable. But what we have right now isn't working," he says. "We need to have a conversation. What rights are we willing to give up so we can live in peace with our neighbor or go to sleep without having to worry about getting shot in your bed?"
Authorities are still searching for the person who shot Shauku. They've offered a reward for the person who helps them find the culprit.
"Against the shooters, I don't really like - I'm not angry with them. I think it was stupid and idiotic. But, I mean, really, I just want them off the street. I just don't want this to happen to anyone else," he says.