At 7:17 p.m. Thursday, Wylene Edwards thought she would have plenty of time to pick up some snacks at Bill’s Place — a store that is a two-minute drive from her North Akron home on Thayer Street — before Jeopardy at 7:30 p.m.
But a chance encounter with a gunman changed those plans.
“I’m a Jeopardy fanatic,” Edwards said from a hospital bed Friday afternoon, recovering from gunshot wounds.
Edwards, 59, left her home Thursday night with her hazard lights flashing as snow blanketed the city.
As she approached East Tallmadge Avenue on Elma Street, Edwards said, she came upon two men walking in the middle of the road.
Edwards said she turned on her high beams so they would move out of the way.
“I would think the natural inclination would be to get out of the middle of the road,” Edwards said. “Who wants to get hit by 2 tons of steel?”
The two men stepped to the side of the road, Edwards said. Then as she drove past, shots rang out.
“You immediately get this stabbing, throbbing sensation,” she said.
The first bullet is still lodged in her left shoulder as surgeons decide how to remove it since it is close to an artery.
The second bullet left a bruise on the back of her left shoulder. A third bullet shattered her windshield.
As blood ran down her back and the pain intensified, Edwards said, she drove to the Italian Center on Tallmadge Avenue.
“I tried not to panic and stay calm,” Edwards recounted. “But the pain was unbearable.”
Staff and patrons at the Thursday night spaghetti dinner at the club helped her inside and phoned police and an ambulance. They also called Edwards’ daughter, Ashanti, who along with other family members rushed to Summa Akron City Hospital to be by her side.
“We have your mother here and she’s been shot,” Ashanti said were the first words she heard over the phone.
Police are still investigating the shooting and have no suspects.
“This specific incident is isolated,” Akron Police Lt. Rick Edwards said. “It’s the first time that someone has been shot at after flashing lights and passing.”
By the time officers made their way to Elma Street, the men had fled, said Edwards, who is no relation to the victim.
Lt. Edwards said the victim couldn’t identify the shooters through her snow-covered windshield.
Wylene Edwards said she has traveled the street many times because it is a good shortcut from Tallmadge Avenue to Cuyahoga Falls Avenue.
During the summer, she said it’s common to see drivers flash their headlights or beep their horns to disperse people walking in the street.
Edwards said she’s not sure why her flashing her lights angered the men.
“I happened to piss him off,” she said “And I tell you what, he was a pretty accurate shot.”
Wylene Edwards said she chalks this up to a “freak incident.”
“I love North Hill,” she said.
The 59-year-old grandmother has lived in the North Hill neighborhood for most of her life. She’s operated a beauty salon from her Thayer Street home for 17 years and started working for Akron Public Schools two weeks ago. She enjoyed setting up breakfast and lunch for the students, but she fears she will not be able to do that with her left arm in a sling.
“I never would have thought that would happen to me,” she said.
Doug Livingston can be reached at 330-996-3792 or email@example.com.