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‘Miracle Makayla’ returns home after being shot in the head, saving niece

More than two months after she was shot in the head while protecting her 18-month-old niece, a Bloomington teenager returned home.

MINNEAPOLIS — On Friday, Makayla Saulter-Outlaw left Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare in St. Paul, walking hand-in-hand with her niece Winter.

“Well, I’m going home,” Makayla said from the car.

And for Makayla, home is a long time coming. On Aug. 30, Makayla was holding Winter when a neighbor wielding a gun fired at the family. The man struck Makayla’s sister, Canisha Saulter, several times in the leg. Despite being shot in the head, Makayla managed to cradle her infant niece in her arms, protecting her from any injury.

“I don’t know what I’d do if my baby was to get hit. But by the grace of God, she saved. And KK is our hero. Makayla is our hero,” Canisha said on Friday, while watching her sister and daughter playing in a Minneapolis park.

But the teenage hero has had to overcome significant challenges these last months: from painful therapy to daunting odds of recovery. Her family says doctors, at one point, doubted she’d regain consciousness.

“Pretty much right when it happened, that’s what we were told. But we just kept praying, you know. We believe in the power of prayer,” said Anthony Smith, Makayla’s cousin.

A hero and typical teenager... with one amazing connection 

On Friday, Makayla demonstrated both her determination and her typical teenage preferences. She quickly rattled off her future plans, “I want to go to college," favorite band, “Pretty Much,” and favorite subject, “I like to draw.”

But then the teenager also revealed a rare connection. She lost herself in her niece’s antics, songs and games. The two frequently locked eyes, and Winter often made Makayla smile.

In those moments, it was clear Makayla would continue to survive this challenging season. Just as it was also clear why she’d found the courage to save her Winter.

“We’re going to continue to call her Miracle Makayla,” Anthony said, adding, “Our prayers are answered.”

If you’d like to support Makayla and Canisha’s ongoing recovery – including extensive physical therapy – simply visit their GoFundMe site.

The alleged gunman in this crime, Jason Mesich, is charged with second-degree murder in the death of his wife, Angela Mesich, who police believe was killed before Mesich targeted his neighbors. Mesich also faces two counts of attempted second-degree murder. He next appears in court on Thursday.

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