RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
A disagreement on a residential street in Muskegon, Michigan turned into a deadly gun battle last month. Six men were armed, one man was killed, and dozens of shots sprayed in all directions. At the house directly behind the gunfight, three children were playing on the porch. This scenario is not as rare in America as we'd like to think. But what happened next is. As the bullets zipped past the children, one woman ran into the line of fire to try to save them. Michigan Radio's Dustin Dwyer has the story.
DUSTIN DWYER, BYLINE: It wasn't quite yet dinnertime. Ten year old Brooke Ridge was walking her dog Scruffy up to the front porch of a grey house on Monroe Avenue in Muskegon. Her friends Cameron and Caiden were there. Her brother was inside. Behind her in the street, a group of men were fighting. The fight escalated.
BROOKE RIDGE: They started off as punching and screaming, then it ended up as a gun battle.
DWYER: Brooke's parents, Jim and Shannon Ridge, were in their second floor apartment around the corner when they first heard the shots. Before they could even get down the steps of their apartment, dozens of shots had been fired.
JIM RIDGE: It was basically a war zone, you know. That's how many rounds went off.
DWYER: Twenty-seven year old Carmesha Rogers was on a balcony directly above the kids when the guns came out. Now, these were not her kids. Some, she didn't even know. But she saw that they were in the line of fire and yelled at them but they didn't move. She ran down the stairs. And she came and got you on the porch?
RIDGE: Yeah, she pushed us all inside.
DWYER: Do you remember seeing her? What did she say to you?
RIDGE: She said, hurry up kids, get in the house. Then she started pushing us in.
DWYER: She got them in the house. They were safe. She was not. A bullet hit her in the head. Heather Tanner came out of her room to look for her sons Cameron and Caiden.
HEATHER TANNER: And then that's when I saw Meesha laying there. And then I just started screaming because I didn't know what else to do. I was shocked. I thought she was dead.
DWYER: Rogers' sister performed CPR. Paramedics arrived and rushed Rogers to the hospital. She survived. How you feeling these days?
CARMESHA ROGERS: Kind of tired now, but I'm all right.
DWYER: I first met Carmesha Rogers as she recovered in her room at Hackley Hospital in Muskegon. She was surrounded by humming medical equipment and cellophane balloons. When she first arrived here, her family had been told she might never walk or talk again. But three weeks later, she was doing both. And her memory of that day was starting to come back. The fight. The guns. The kids on the porch.
What were the thoughts in your mind at that point? You knew there were guns going off.
ROGERS: I didn't have a thought. Just get the kids out the way. Because I'd want someone to do that for my kids.
TANNER: She's our hero. She saved our children.
DWYER: Heather Tanner, Shannon and Jim Ridge - they're just grateful for what Rogers did.
RIDGE: None of us are rich, none of us have a million dollars we can hand her and say thank you, which I would if I could. But I guess my thank you, in a way, is get it out there, nationwide, what she did.
DWYER: Ridge says he knows shootings happen every day in America.
RIDGE: But somebody that does what she did, that's rare in America or anywhere else.
DWYER: If Carmesha Rogers had been a soldier in a combat zone, she might be eligible for a Purple Heart. But Rogers wasn't in a combat zone. She was on a residential street in a small city in America. She says when she ran out into the gunfire, she wasn't being a hero. She was just being a parent, even though the kids she saved were not hers.
ROGERS: I just seen kids. I don't think no kids should be around violence.
DWYER: For NPR News, I'm Dustin Dwyer in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
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