Bed-Stuy Shooting Victim Meets the Man Who Saved His Life

By Paul DeBenedetto on May 20, 2014 7:57am 

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 Antonius Wiriadjaja, 30, last week met John Morant, 41, the man who saved his life after being shot in Bed-Stuy last year.
Antonius Wiriadjaja and John Morant
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BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — Antonius Wiriadjaja was on his way to help some friends move out of their apartment when he heard what he thought were fireworks a day after Independence Day.

Then he saw the blood.

Wiriadjaja, 30, was caught in the crossfire of a Bed-Stuy shooting in front of 421 Nostrand Ave. on July 5 around 1:30 p.m. He was shot once in the chest, between two ribs, narrowly missing his heart and instead hitting his stomach.

Rushed to Kings County Hospital and placed into a week-long sedated coma, the doctors told Wiriadjaja he would have died if not for the help of a man who placed pressure on the gaping wound and helped to keep him conscious.

Last week, Wiriadjaja finally met that man.

When a camera crew filming a short documentary on Wiriadjaja's experience tracked down John Morant, 41, they set up the surreal meeting.

"It was crazy," Wiriadjaja said. "The last time I saw him, he was pushing down on my wound and I was bleeding out."

Morant is a Bed-Stuy barber who heard the shots from inside of G's Best Cut Barbershop, a block away at 409 Nostrand Ave.

He ran toward the scene and, when he saw Wiriadjaja laying propped up against the wall of a Masonic lodge, he got to work, asking for a clean towel and talking to the victim in order to keep him conscious.

The two men last week talked about what they remembered from that experience. They shared a sobering moment when Morant lifted his shirt to reveal his own scar from a gunshot wound on the right side of his torso that he received when he was 14 years old — a mirror image of the scar on Wiriadjaja's left side.

"It's a very eerie parallel," Wiriadjaja said. "It's a 30-year difference between his shooting and my shooting, and it's still happening."

Morant said he received his scar in 1986 after a raucous party at the Sumner Houses that escalated into violence.

A group of teens aiming for his friend hit Morant and he spent three days unconscious in the hospital, he said.

 Antonius Wiriadjaja, 29, spent more than two weeks in the hospital after his July 5 shooting. Half that time was spent in a medically-induced coma, he said.
Antonius Wiriadjaja, 29, spent more than two weeks in the hospital after his July 5 shooting. Half that time was spent in a medically-induced coma, he said.
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"Next thing I know, I woke up on a life machine," Morant said. "They didn't know how I was living."

It was because of this experience that Morant said he was able to think quickly on July 5.

The 41-year-old barber remembers the despair in Wiriadjaja's voice, gasping out "I'm dying, I'm dying," as he lay on the sidewalk.

"You could see he was transforming, losing his strength of spirit," he said.

Morant describes himself as a spiritual person and credits his faith with being able to help Wiriadjaja.

"They said, 'I want to let you know that if you weren't there, he would have died,'" Morant said. "I said, 'praise Jesus.'"

Over the past year, the Jakarta-born Wiriadjaja has blogged about his experience as a shooting victim and takes photos of his scars as they heal in the hope that he can help start a larger conversation about gun violence in America.

He's worked with former Mayor Michael Bloomberg's "Mayor's Against Illegal Guns" — now known as "Everytown for Gun Safety" — and has since gotten back to his performance art, something he wasn't sure he'd ever do again.

But despite all the strides he's made in the past year, Wiriadjaja said he knows he wouldn't be here today without Morant.

"We're definitely going to keep in touch," Wiriadjaja said. "I owe him so much."

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