Jersey Mike's helps raise money for shooting victims

Originally Published at Mukilteo Tribune by Conor Glassey

Two victims of a recent shooting have seen bills pile up because of medical expenses and lost wages, but one local business offered some financial relief.

Last week, Jersey Mike's Subs in Mukilteo had a day of fund raising for Josh Penaluna and Sarah Thorsnes, the couple injured as innocent bystanders at the May 24 shooting at the Seattle Center during the annual Northwest Folklife Festival.

Thorsnes, 21, and Penaluna, 19, both live in Renton, but local ties led to the sandwich shop's generosity. Penaluna's mother owns a coffee stand in Lynnwood called Grinders where she has been collecting money for the couple. One of her baristas used to work at Jersey Mike's and arranged for a fund-raising event there as well.

Jersey Mike's owner Steve Berry would not disclose what percentage of the day's profits would be going to the couple, but said that the event was a success and raised "a couple hundred bucks" for them.

Mukilteo resident Kris Huxford ate lunch at Jersey Mike's that day with her daughter because she heard about the fund raiser.

"I knew about the situation with Josh and Sarah because I go to Josh's mom's espresso stand," Huxford said. "So, when she told me Jersey Mike's was doing this, I said, 'I'll be there.'"

The couple was appreciative of the support. "It definitely shows that people actually care," Thorsnes said. "To see that there are people that are helping really brightens our hope that there are nice people in the world."

Thorsnes recapped the day that changed their lives.

The couple was sitting under a tree at the Folklife Festival when a fight broke out between two men near them. One of the men, Clinton Grainger, reached down for a handgun in an ankle holster. The men then tripped over the couple and the gun was discharged.

The bullet went through Penaluna's left arm, entering in his fore-arm and coming out of his wrist, shattering his ulna bone in the process.

"It hurt a lot, but it was more shocking than anything," Penaluna said. "The adrenaline kicks in and you don't really feel anything, but I did feel my bone shatter. It was a horrible burning sensation that shot through my wrist and amplified the pain. There was a lot of blood."

The bullet exited Penaluna's arm and went into Thorsnes' right thigh, where it remains to this day. "They said that it will just stay in there and it will eventually come out, like a splinter in your hand," Thorsnes said. "I honestly haven't felt it move yet, but they said going in and removing it could cause even more damage."

The scene was chaotic.

Thorsnes didn't realize she had been shot at first and was more concerned about her puppy that was running away. She didn't realize her boyfriend had been shot, and vice versa.

"We heard one shot and I was the one in pain," Penaluna said. "How often do you hear about two people getting hit with one shot? That's the type of stuff you hear about in the movies."

It wasn't until about an hour after the mayhem, at Harborview Medical Center, that Thorsnes learned that her boyfriend had been shot as well and that a friend had retrieved her puppy.

Luckily for the couple, they both had health insurance and were also helped out by the state Department of Labor and Industries crime victims compensation for anything not covered by their insurance and some lost wages.

But the compensation doesn't add up to what Thorsnes and Penaluna were making before their injuries. Thorsnes was a nanny, but the bullet in her leg prevented her from continuing that job and Penaluna's shattered arm prevented him from doing many of the tasks he had as a plumber.

Penaluna recently got out of his cast and has begun physical therapy and Thorsnes is finally able to walk without crutches.

"We had a good balance and a good pattern going and this has kind of screwed up everything we had," Penaluna said about the couple's financial difficulties since the shooting. "I make the majority of my money working overtime at my job and the crime victims paychecks are about half of what I would make because I make so much from overtime."

Media reports indicated that Grainger, the 22-year-old Snohomish man that shot the couple, did have a concealed weapons permit. He also has a history of drug problems and schizophrenia.

"I do not feel that he should have ever been able to have a gun permit with his problems," Thorsnes said. "Anybody with a problem like that has a chance of not acting rationally in those types of situations. I'm not angry at him, I just feel that he needed more help."

Penaluna was not as forgiving.

"He's a moron," Penaluna said when asked about his thoughts on the shooter. "I believe that any person that's stupid enough to bring a gun to a place like that and pull it out in a situation that's obviously not needed should not be allowed to carry a gun and should not be allowed to even drive because I feel driving requires intelligence that this guy doesn't have. I hate the fact that we were the victims of somebody else's carelessness."

The couple is planning to sue Grainger but any settlement received will go back into the crime victims compensation fund to help other people in the future, Thorsnes said.