Boy shot with BB gun returns home after monthslong hospital stay

Kalamazoo County

GALESBURG, Mich. (WOOD) — A Galesburg boy who spent months in the hospital fighting for his life was welcomed home Wednesday evening.

It’s been 2 1/2 months since 13-year-old Deven Free shot in the head with a BB gun. Deven was on life support at Bronson Children’s Hospital after family said the BB hit him right above his eye and lodged in the back of his brain.

An undated courtesy photo of Deven Free, 12.

“He doesn’t talk, he can’t walk, can’t eat. He gets fed through a tube. Most days he just lays in a bed. Today, his eyes were open. My sister was able to get him to wiggle his toes for the first time in a long time,” Lisa Shirley said.

Shirley, the aunt of Deven’s mother, says the community support has been overwhelming.

“There has been tons of support from people all over the world. There was a gentleman in Kalamazoo — I’m not going to say his name because I’m not sure that he wants his name out there — He gave my niece a sizeable donation that she was just able to purchase a handicap van for Deven,” Shirley said.

Friends and family gathered on East Michigan Avenue in Galesburg to welcome him home, showing their support with “Deven Strong” signs and shirts.

Firetrucks escorted the ambulance home, where the boy has a long road to recovery.

Deven Free, 13, who was injured during a BB gun incident, returns home after spending months in the hospital. (July 14, 2021)

Doctors are hoping the familiar environment will help improve the functioning of his brain.

“The neurologist is thinking that maybe with familiar smells and faces and voices, that maybe it will jump start his brain into kicking in,” Shirley said.

Family members are working to inform the community about the danger BB guns can pose.

“Our family wants everyone to know that BB guns are not a toy,” Shirley said.

The family is praying his condition will improve so he can be admitted to Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital for recovery.

“We’re Deven strong, family strong, we all stick together. Hopefully, bringing him home will give him the jump-start that he needs,” Shirley said.

If you would like to donate and help with Deven’s medical care, visit the family’s GoFundMe page.

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