Paralyzed Indian Trail HS student on road to recovery after being shot 9 times

Jared Loetz

PLEASANT PRAIRIE -- A 16-year-old from Pleasant Prairie is on the road to recovery after being shot nine times in his own home. One bullet left him paralyzed.

'I have to feel out what I can do and what I can't do," said Jared Loetz.

Jared Loetz is navigating through a new life.  In October 2018, a 19-year-old man fired a barrage of bullets into Loetz's bedroom. He survived but suffered life-changing injuries including losing the ability to walk on his own.

Jared Loetz

Jared Loetz

"I'm just getting used to being in a wheelchair now," said Loetz.

It's a new reality for the former Indian Trail High School football player, who's now on the road to recovery after tragedy.

"Sometimes I remember what happened. Sometimes it's fine," said Loetz.

In October 2018, Loetz was in his Pleasant Prairie home, when he heard a knock on his bedroom window.

"I was playing a game in my room," said Loetz.

Pleasant Prairie shooting incident

Jared Loetz

Prosecutors say Loetz's 19-year-old neighbor robbed him of his shoes and gaming system. Then came chaos.

"He told me to give him some stuff and I gave it to him," Loetz said. "After I gave it to him, he backed up and he started shooting."

The teen was struck nine times. One bullet struck his spine.

Don Birkholz

"Everything was just a blur. When I hit the floor I thought I was done," said Loetz.

"I thought it was fireworks at first. Then I smelled the gun smoke," said Don Birkholz, Loetz's stepfather.

Loetz spent months in the hospital before being released and showed up to a homecoming celebration.

"I had no idea when I got home that everyone was going to be here," said Loetz.

The teen continues to defy the odds.

"He's shown me what he can do after this incident. He's very motivated," said Birkholz.

Loetz is motivating others while overcoming obstacles along the way.

"I want to meet my goal to walk. I have a great support system throughout Kenosha," said Loetz.

Justin Stapleton, 19, has been charged for shooting Loetz. Loetz's family is working to make his home more wheelchair accessible and paying off medical bills.

A community benefit is planned Saturday, May 4, at The Lanes on 20 in Mount Pleasant.

A GoFundMe account has also been set up for Loetz's recovery.

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