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'The love is real': Family of teen shot is thankful for community's support

Brian Durham Jr
Posted at 8:48 PM, Jan 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-16 00:28:43-05

PHOENIX — An outpouring of support has been seen for a teenage fast-food worker who was shot on the job.

Sixteen-year-old Brian Durham Junior is making progress after being shot while working at the Wendy's near 19th and Glendale avenues Thursday night.

Now Brian’s parents are sending a special message to the community, who stepped up in a big way to help their son.

“Wave to them. Say hello,” Brian Durham Sr. asked his son, Brian.

“Hello,” responded Brian Durham Jr. from his hospital bed.

Brian Durham Sr. showed ABC15 an intimate moment shared at Phoenix Children’s hospital with his son.

“So, B-man is A-OK. He’s getting better. We want to thank you all for everything you’ve done for us. And everything y’all doing for us,” Durham said with his son by his side.

We caught up with Brian’s dad, outside of the hospital, while his son was getting an MRI.

He says words cannot express how thankful he is for the community’s support.

“I’m speechless. The love is there. The love is real, and it’s given him inspiration. He’s unstoppable,” he told ABC15.

His son was shot through a drive-through window.

Phoenix Police say one of the employees inside the fast-food restaurant got into an argument with a customer over an order. The customer, identified as 27-year-old Theotis Polk, is accused of walking up to the drive-thru window and opening fire. The bullet hit Brian in the head.

Brian’s dad says his son was not the intended target.

“I’m going to say it was a miracle in a way because not many people (survive) a headshot,” Durham Sr. added.

He says he’s thankful to God for his son’s life and forever indebted to the community for helping his son heal.

The online fundraiser Brian’s dad created went from zero to thousands in a matter of hours.

“He’s taken care of. Hospital bills. I…I cried upstairs. Because it was so exciting because I thought people don’t care anymore. You know? And to come together for my son,” he told ABC15.

When he showed Brian how the community stepped up for him, Durham Sr. says his son’s face lit up.

“He said thank you in his own way. He just feel the love. He feel the love from everybody,” Brian’s dad added.

As for the person who was arrested in connection to the shooting of his son:

“He shot a 16-year-old kid over barbecue sauce. So just imagine what he would do for anything else. I’m happy. He needs to be locked away and throw away the key,” said Durham Sr.

Meanwhile, his boy keeps making progress, able to eat his first meal and finally have limited interactions with his parents.