Calgary retiree paralyzed after shooting in Barbados interrupts Scrabble game
'He's got tubes coming out of him everywhere,' friend says
Friends are raising money to help a Calgary retiree who was paralyzed when he was shot by an intruder in his Barbados vacation rental.
Ken Elliott was on holiday on the Caribbean island with his wife, Linda Brooks, and brother and sister-in-law when the shooting occurred, his longtime friend and former colleague Landon Zabloski said Tuesday.
According to Zabloski, Brooks said the group was playing Scrabble on Saturday night when at least two men stormed in — one with a machete and one with a gun.
"It happened so quickly. I get the impression that [police] don't even know what the motive was, because Ken and his brother Rob popped into action instantly and started to fight off these two guys," Zabloski said.
"Ken was shot, obviously. Rob disarmed the other guy with the machete and they both took off."
Bullet severed spinal cord
Elliott, who worked for the City of Calgary for decades before retiring, was initially taken to a local emergency clinic, but it was crowded and run-down, Zabloski said.
He was then flown to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., for treatment, and it's unclear when he will be stable enough to fly home.
Zabloski said a bullet severed Elliott's spinal cord between the third and fourth vertebrae. He's been told his friend has some use of his arms but is paralyzed below the collar bone. Elliott also suffered a punctured lung.
"He's just in really, really, really rough shape," said Zabloski. "He's got tubes coming out of him everywhere. He's on oxygen."
The bullet is still lodged in Elliott's spine. Doctors want to remove it to prevent infection, and Barbados authorities want it for evidence, but it's a risky surgery.
Heavy duty mechanic
Zabloski said he heard from Brooks that Elliott is to have a blood clot removed from his lung on Wednesday.
He and other friends are raising money through a GoFundMe page called "Support Ken Elliott's recovery" to help with medical and other expenses. By Tuesday afternoon, it had raised more than $12,000.
"It's so hard to know how to help somebody out in a situation like this. And when you feel so helpless, it feels good to be able to do something to show that there is support there for the person," said Zabloski.
He said Elliott worked for the City of Calgary for 36 years as a heavy duty mechanic and foreman, and he was a mentor to many in the Fleet Services department.
Zabloski said his friend is tough and always stands up for what's right.
"That's probably what happened in Barbados. He was standing up for what was right and unfortunately they had a gun," he said.
Away from 'tourist belt'
"If they didn't have a gun, I think things would have gone much differently for those two attackers."
Barbados attorney general Dale Marshall condemned the attack, which he said took place in a residential area away from the "tourist belt."
"Tourism is our bread and butter and Barbados cannot afford to have any negative references about how safe or unsafe it is," he said at a constituency meeting, according to media outlet Barbados Today.
"Barbados was always felt to be a safe place for visitors and this kind of callous conduct on the part of a few hooligans can threaten the livelihood of our country."