He spent time serving his country in Iraq only to be gunned down on the streets of Cleveland. Now, the family of an aspiring photographer needs the community’s help in finding his attackers.
Christopher DeMund, a veteran of the US Army, remains in critical condition at Metro Hospital following the robbery-turned-shooting that happened in broad daylight Thursday afternoon. According to Cleveland police, DeMund was walking on Euclid Avenue near 36th when he was followed by a group of men. DeMund reportedly resisted their demands for his cell phone when one of the assailants fired a warning shot. A few seconds later, DeMund was shot in the stomach at point blank range.
“He didn’t deserve this in any way, shape or form. I have never understood the mental capacity of someone that would want to hurt somebody else, especially somebody they don’t know,” said Ashlee Fletcher, DeMund’s sister. “I never understood what goes through somebody’s mind that would make them want to do that.”
Fletcher, DeMund’s mother and his girlfriend have remained bedside at Metro Hospital for the past 48 hours. Fletcher drove from her home in upstate New York upon hearing that her beloved brother was clinging to life.
Although time seemed to stand still, she doesn’t remember much of the drive, Fletcher said.
“To drive for 7 hours not knowing if you’re going to see your brother alive and wish him well or to plan his funeral, I would never wish that on my worst enemy. I would never wish that on anybody,” Fletcher said. “I don’t understand. It wasn’t supposed to happen to him. He made it through Iraq and to get shot in his hometown? I don’t understand it.”
The single gunshot did significant damage to a number of DeMund’s vital organs. It severed his stomach, pancreas and a kidney. The bullet also hit his spine. It is unclear if DeMund will be able to walk unimpeded again.
The pain is unfathomable.
“It comes to him in waves and spasms,” Fletcher said. “His body locks up and there’s nothing you can do to help him. There’s nothing the doctors can do to help him. He says his legs are on fire. For a little while there we didn’t think he was going to make it. For a little while there it was very touch-and-go.”
Although DeMund’s assailants took his cell phone and nearly robbed him of his life, inexplicably, they did not steal DeMund’s expensive DLSR camera – his prized possession. Photography became DuMund’s passion after a roadside bomb ended his military career early.
DeMund had an affinity for documenting abandoned and crumbling warehouses. The family now fears he may never stand behind the lens again.
“Seeing the decay and ruins, he turns it into something beautiful. It is his biggest passion. That’s all he wants to do with his life,” Fletcher said. “He was throwing himself into his photography. He was trying to take pictures of things that he thinks people will think is beautiful and bring a smile to their face.”
In his five years in Cleveland, he did just that. Many of his photos were sold at a local café – not far from where he was shot Thursday afternoon. The shooting was captured on surveillance cameras in the area, Fletcher said. The family hopes witnesses to the altercation will come forward.
“What if it was their brother? Their father? Their son?” Fletcher said. “My mom’s baby boy is laying in a hospital bed right now.”
DeMund’s family has started a GoFundMe page. You can find a link to the campaign by clicking here.