Paul Patrick, right, listened to testimony earlier this year in the trial of his alleged attacker, Serial Shooter suspect Dale Hausner. Now, Patrick, the “face of the victims,” is recovering from a stroke doctors believe may have been caused by complications of his shooting. Photo by Julio Jimenez
Paul Patrick has had the effects of the Serial Shooters stuck inside him, quite literally, for nearly three years. A survivor of one of the dozens of random attacks that took place in the Phoenix area in 2005 and 2006, Patrick has existed with some 80-100 shotgun pellets lodged inside his body ever since.
On Thursday, one of those pellets apparently caught up with the 48-year-old survivor. Patrick suffered a stroke and collapsed at his Phoenix home as he was preparing to attend the final day of closing arguments in the trial of Serial Shooter suspect Dale Hausner. Patrick’s mother, Mary, said doctors believe the stroke was likely caused by one of the pellets shifting inside his body, which created a blood clot that moved into his brain.
Now, as jurors continue to deliberate on 87 charges against the Serial Shooter suspect, Patrick — considered the victim in three of those charges — lies almost motionless in a hospital bed. He is alive, but the left side of his body is paralyzed from the stroke.
Patrick has been a constant figure of the Serial Shooter trial. He was in the courtroom without fail every day of testimony, sitting stoically in the front row of the gallery. He said back in November he sees himself as “the face of the victims.” It was was “my beautiful duty,” he said, to be in the courtroom representing each of the nearly 30 people hurt or killed during the 14-month shooting spree.
“They’re not just going to be insignificant names,” Patrick said at the time. “There’s going to be a face to this. It’s going to be human.”
By phone from Patrick’s hospital room today, his mother talked about how important it was for her son to be in the courtroom. “He wanted so badly to give Dale a face, the jury a face and just make sure nobody forgets,” said Mary Patrick, who has accompanied her son to the courtroom almost every day.
Paul was getting ready for what would likely be one of his final days in court on Thursday when he collapsed, his mother said. He was rushed to a nearby hospital, where surgeons had to remove part of his skull to relieve the swelling in his brain. Mary Patrick said her son had “absolutely no chance of living without the operation.”
Even after the successful operation, his mother said they are unsure whether he will survive in the days or weeks to come. “It’s sometimes minute-by-minute,” she said.
Patrick was shot on the night of June 8, 2006 while walking alone from his home to a nearby gas station. He said he didn’t even see the car pull up beside him with a shotgun barrel sticking out the passenger window. The gunshot hit him directly in the abdomen, sending a barrage of tiny pellets into his gut.
He very likely would have died there on the sidewalk near 78th Avenue and Indian School Road, he said later, if a nearby neighbor hadn’t heard the blast, called 911 and rushed across the street to help him.
Patrick spent the next three weeks in a coma. During that time, his progress was slow. Phoenix police detective Clark Schwartzkopf testified in the ongoing trial that he thought Patrick wouldn’t even survive. “To be honest with you, I thought the next call I would get would be from the medical examiner to report for his autopsy,” Schwartzkopf testified. Instead, he got a call from Patrick’s brother, saying Patrick had been transfered to another hospital for recovery.
The road from there has been long. Patrick has dealt with severe post-traumatic stress disorder and ongoing physical problems. Walking had been difficult and he mostly got around with the help of a motorized scooter. He underwent at least eight surgeries since the attack.
Patrick sat in court earlier this year when Samuel Dieteman, the alleged co-conspirator in the Serial Shooter attacks, testified to pulling the trigger for the shooting while Hausner drove. “It was good to hear him admit it,” Patrick said.
Hausner has pleaded innocent to the 87 charges against him, including the Patrick shooting and eight murders. Dieteman pleaded guilty to two murders and a charge of conspiracy to commit murder. The plea was part of an agreement to testify against Hausner.
In the past several weeks, Patrick’s health has apparently been worsening. He could be heard coughing loudly in court, and he often had to wheel himself out of the room to regain composure. His mother said he didn’t tell anybody, including her, that his condition was getting worse because he wanted to be in the courtroom.
“His goal was to get through the trial,” Mary Patrick said. “And he almost made it.”
Now, Patrick will almost certainly be elsewhere when the jury reads its verdict, an event that could come at any moment.
Reporter’s note: I got to know Paul pretty well over the past several months. He has been stoic and strong throughout the trial, and I’m sure continues to have a desire to see justice done. Mentally, some days of the trial were harder than others. He told me on Wednesday, just a day before his collapse, that he was having a hard time listening to Hausner’s lawyer give closing arguments. It was difficult, he said, for him to listen to what he described as “lies.” Still, he remained in the courtroom to be that “face of the victims.”
I plan to continue checking in on Paul’s condition and speaking with his mother. Many of you have gotten to know Paul, too, after I wrote a profile on him back in November for the East Valley Tribune. If you have a message you would like me to pass on to his family, please email me or leave it in the comments below.