Shooting victim returns with lunch, and thanks

Reunion: Six weeks after being gunned down outside the courthouse in Ellicott City, Wing Wu returns to meet with her rescuers.

April 23, 1999|By Nancy A. Youssef | Nancy A. Youssef,SUN STAFF

Six weeks after she was shot outside the Howard County Circuit Courthouse, Wing Wu returned to Ellicott City yesterday, this time to thank the fire and rescue personnel who saved her life.

The Hong Kong immigrant shyly and slowly walked into the Ellicott City fire station, a brace on her right leg, a few teeth missing and two bandages around her mouth.

She brought two large plates of Chinese food -- rice and shrimp, and noodles and shrimp -- she had bought near her Baltimore home, explaining to firefighters what was in each dish.

Although she brought them lunch to express her gratitude, Wu still wanted their help. She hoped the 15 county employees could tell her what her memory cannot about the March 11 shooting that left her mother dead and her stepfather charged with homicide.

She wonders how she survived that day and her mother didn't, what the firefighters did and why they were called to the scene.

"There is a northern [police] district and a southern district," Cpl. Sue Goldman of the county Police Department explained. "The first people who came out [were] the sheriff's [deputies] stationed at the courthouse."

Wu turned away and sighed. Tears welled up as she tried unsuccessfully to remember.

Wu, 26, and her mother, So Shan Chan, 52, were leaving Chan's and Tuse S. Liu's divorce proceeding, talking about where to go for lunch.

Police say Liu drove around them in the courthouse parking lot, pulled out a shotgun and began firing.

The women were able to wrestle it away, police say, prompting Liu to produce a handgun and shoot. Police say that weapon caused the women's injuries.

Chan was shot three times, Wu twice, in the chest. Wu's lung collapsed, and she spent the next two weeks recovering at Maryland Shock Trauma Center.

Fire and rescue officials recalled the first time they heard the call over the loudspeaker system and what they saw when they arrived at the courthouse a few miles away.

"I remember when we pulled up and found the two ladies lying there," said Michael Stoner, a firefighter and paramedic.

Wu "was talking to us the whole time. She asked us where her mother was."

Firefighter David J. Bathras said Chan "was unconscious the whole time, but you never give up hope."

Fire and rescue officials said they rarely receive visits from the people they save.

They tried to help Wu, explaining their jobs down to the last detail. It was a way to change the subject when it became too painful for Wu to hear the details of that day.

"There is a need for her to know," said Goldman, one of the first to treat Wu and her mother. "I don't have a problem with it."

Wu took pains to show her gratitude.

She expressed thanks as she handed out plates of food. She praised the color choice for the napkins and plastic silverware -- pink.

She complimented Suzie Tornatore, the county coordinator for the victims' assistance unit, on the necklace she was wearing.

It featured a Chinese word in the center. Tornatore asked her what the word meant.

"It says love," Wu said.

Pub Date: 4/23/99

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