Paralyzed Huntington woman forgives father for shooting her

HUNTINGTON, TX (KTRE) - In 2010, a Huntington man shot his daughter then turned the gun on himself and later died. His daughter, 29-year-old Ellie Thornton, is now paralyzed. Thornton has since forgiven her father who shot her in the neck. She's shedding light on a tragedy that left so many wondering how a father could pull the trigger on his daughter.

"We were both alcoholics and it was going to come head to head one day anyway"Ellie Thornton said. "An exception on me was I was an addict on top of that."

Bruce Thornton was in early stages of cirrhosis of the liver and Ellie Thornton thinks this may have caused him to hallucinate.

"I'm assuming that he thought I was somebody else or something else but otherwise it would've never happened because we were always together; two peas in a pod," Ellie said.

On August 25, 2010, Mary Thornton received a call from her husband.

"He said I just shot our daughter; I'm fixing to turn the gun on myself. Call 911," MaryThornton said.

Several first responders arrived at the Thornton's home in Huntington.

"EMT arrived and they heard the last shot," Mary said.

Bruce Thornton had turned the gun on himself.

"The bullet on him went in his right side, hit both lungs, and came out the left side of his neck," Mary said. "He was also shot in his back in 2009."

The father and daughter were found on their back porch suffering from individual gunshot wounds. They were life flighted to ETMC in Tyler.

"Next thing I know I'm waking up in a hospital bed and I can't move," Ellie said. "I didn't even know across the hall dad was dying."

12 hours after arriving at the hospital the Huntington father died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. For the next 33 days his daughter continued to fight for her life.

"The left lung collapsed and they put her back on the ventilator," Mary said. "I kept asking the lord please don't let my daughter die."

Ellie was shot in the left side of her neck, resulting in spinal cord damage.

"The bullet is actually still in the vertebrae," Mary said.

Doctors told the then 26-year-old that she would possibly never be able to walk again.

"She looked at him and she said I will walk again," Mary said.

Ellie now has full use of her right arm although doctors lost hope three years ago.

She's never giving up and finds ambition to help others despite her setbacks.

"I feel more vibrant, you know. I feel like me and I haven't felt like me in a long time," Ellie said.

The Huntington woman has been sober for the past three years and is hoping her story will spread awareness and save others.

"If you feel like you are going to hurt yourself or hurt somebody else, please go and tell somebody; your best friend, your mom, your dad, a stranger. Don't hide it; it could really make a difference," Ellie said.

This fatal incident wasn't the first time Ellie has witnessed alcohol take control.

"I had been in the scenario once where drugs and alcohol had been involved and I watched somebody get shot with a .30-30 under their jaw," Ellie said.

The mother and daughter have forgiven Bruce since the tragedy that occurred.

"He was not a monster. He had a lot of pain," Mary said. "He had gone through a lot of pain."

"I'm not afraid of the gun," Ellie said. "The gun doesn't shoot you. It's what's behind the gun that gets you in trouble."

Ellie Thornton is standing on her faith and taking things day by day.

She never received therapy after being released from the hospital and is hopeful to go to go Craig, a rehabilitation center in Colorado, for her spinal cord injuries this year.

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