By David Highfield

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — It’s been one year since the massacre in Wilkinsburg where five people and an unborn child were killed.

One of the survivors is John Ellis. He was shot three times and is paralyzed below the waist, but that’s done nothing to break his positive spirit.

“I heard a pop, pop, pop, pop,” said Ellis. “I thought it was fireworks.”

The 48-year-old recounted what happened from a wheelchair in his parents’ basement.

He had been drinking at the cookout and didn’t even feel the first shot that hit him.

“I looked down and I got hit again… and that’s when I got up out of the chair and I ran.”

But then he heard loud gunfire.

Join The Conversation On The KDKA Facebook Page
Stay Up To Date, Follow KDKA On Twitter

“I just fell on the side. Play dead. Play dead. Play dead. Because you’re watching something on TV, and you never thought it would happen to you,” said Ellis.

His mother, Aleta Livsey, wipes away tears thinking about how she could have lost her son that night.

“Sorry he’s in the wheelchair, because I know my son, he likes to walk,” said Livsey. “But, I’m just glad he’s here. I just feel bad for these other families I really do.”

As for the two men charged in the shooting, Ellis says if convicted, “You took somebody kid’s life and that really made me mad, and I said, I wish the death penalty on them.”

Even though doctors are reluctant to say Ellis will ever walk again, he’s too positive to ever quit trying.

“My determination is that I’m not going to be in this wheelchair the rest of my life,” said Ellis. “I’d like to get up and move around.”

He says he wants to get back to doing physical therapy.

More From CBS Pittsburgh

Get The All New CBS Local App
KDKA Weather App
CBS All Access

Watch & Listen LIVE