Elder Michael Fauber the full-time missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints seriously injured in a Dec. 3, 2021, meetinghouse shooting in Alabama came away from the incident with remnants of five bullets in his body, limited movement in his right arm and hand, and a strengthened appreciation for and testimony of the gospel.
“It’s definitely a miracle I guess I’m supposed to keep going,” said the 18-year-old Fauber, recently released from the Alabama Birmingham Mission. “There’s the probability that I could have been instantly paralyzed from the bullet to my spine. I could have bled out with the shot to my liver.”
Just days after the shooting, his parents — David and Rachel Fauber of the Kettering Ward in the Dayton Ohio Stake spoke of their “sense of peace” and gratitude for blessings and miracles. And in a recent interview from home with the Church News, Michael Fauber made his first public comments about the incident, his injuries, his rehabilitation and his perspective of the experience.
Read more: Missionary shot in Alabama Latter-day Saint meetinghouse is in serious but stable condition
As Fauber got up to return to keeping score, the player pulled a gun out of his backpack. He fired off two quick rounds, waited a couple of seconds and then pulled the trigger four more times.
The first shot hit the elder in his right shoulder and collarbone area. “I didn’t know the other shots he fired had hit me, because my whole body just went into shock. I really didn’t feel the effects of the other bullets.”
Fauber knew he was still conscious, assuming no shot had hit his head or a vital organ. “I was lying there, very blessed to not be in that much pain,” he said, remembering gasping a lot for air.
Five bullets struck the missionary, a sixth grazed his head. All five remain in his body. Doctors have chosen against invasive surgery to remove the bullets, which don’t pose problems nor poisoning threats as they aren’t made of lead.
The first bullet blasted through his right collarbone. “I have this big plate supporting my shoulder and everything there right now,” Fauber says. “It will probably be awhile before I can get that removed, until the collarbone heals.”
Another bullet struck the right shoulder and fragmented. “It kind of exploded and blew up, so there are a bunch of fragments in the same right shoulder.”
One of those shots damaged the brachial plexus, the nerve system running from the spinal cord through the shoulder and down to the arm and hand.
After the Dec. 21 arrival, he couldn’t get out of the recliner much, but he relished being home, recovering there, being with family and seeing other people. A couple of days later, Elder Fauber was released as a full-time missionary by his stake president, about five months after having started at-home missionary training in late July 2021.
Investigation into the shooting resulted in an arrest of an 18-year-old man who was charged with attempted homicide, which carries a minimum sentence of 15 years in prison.
Fauber says he thinks often of the shooter and his mental and emotional state, wondering if they’ll have a chance someday to talk. “Hopefully he’d be in a better state that I could talk to him and ask him some questions and just kind of empathize with him. There’s no way he was living a happy life, succeeding in school and in a good family situation if he just decided to do something like that.”
What has the shooting incident and missionary service overall meant to Michael Fauber? “Well, it has changed my life, and I’ve been lucky enough to have — I believe — at least helped change the lives of others through sharing the gospel.”
His understanding of mortal life being “a tiny blip of time” in an eternal perspective has increased, as has his understanding and appreciation of the gospel. “That’s how the mission experience has helped me — to see that the most important thing that we can do is serve others and present them the opportunity to accept the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
And serving the Lord was just a relatively small offering. “I realized my sacrifice of giving two years of my life to spread the word is not really much of a sacrifice at all,” he said. “It’s what we all should be doing … if we see an opportunity to share the gospel, it’s something we should always jump in and do.”