TRAVIS COUNTY, TX (KXAN) — The woman who survived a deadly shooting in Travis County was reunited with the first responders who saved her life Thursday. Jaclyn Burden identified herself as the third victim who was shot back on March 15, 2017, and the only survivor of the shooting.
Burden had envisioned meeting the first responders who saved her life, and on Thursday she got the opportunity to do so at an event arranged by the Travis County Sheriff’s Office. She hugged them, thanked them for what they’d done, and asked them plenty of questions to fill in the gaps in her memory of the day she was shot.
Burden was shot in the head and in the arm on March 15, 2017, when deputies say Randall Burrows of Lakeway shot Richard “Dale” Guthrie and his girlfriend Susan Gulla-O’Leary.
Burden wanted to clarify some of the details: she was 22 when it happened and the shooting began outside her house. She explained that Burrows had been doing contract work on the home she was living in and was renting from Gulla- O’Leary. Burden said the three of them had a meeting, primarily with Gulla-O’Leary about her dissatisfaction with the work he had done and saying she would have to pay him less.
Next, Burden said, Burrows grabbed a gun out of his car and began shooting Gulla-O’Leary and Gurthrie.
“He ended up killing them both in my front yard before he came after me,” Burden said.
She tried to lock herself in her home, but Burrows kicked down the door. Burden said he shot her in the arm, then in the head, at which point she blacked out.
Burrows fled after the crime, where he was ultimately chased down by highway patrol in Summit, Mississippi where he committed suicide
“I don’t even know if I could figure out what I’d want to say to him, I think a lot of things, I think I’d want to say a lot, but at the same time maybe its not even worth my breath,” Burden said of the man who shot her.
The next thing she remembers was waking up in the hospital. Burden was initially paralyzed on the left side of her body and had to get a 3D printed piece implanted in her skull.
Nineteen months later, after lots of physical therapy and trips to the outpatient clinic, she is able to walk again and is improving her use of her hands. Once left handed, she is trying to re-train her body to use her right hand.
Burden used to spend time hiking and biking, she used to work at an animal hospital, but now she is unable to do much of that. She said she keeps her chin up by focusing on the “silver linings.”
“I hope one day be able to put together a disability equipment company and a non-profit to help other people with disabilities accomplish dreams that they feel like they can’t do because of their limitations,” she said.
Burden also wanted to note that after the shooting, many people suggested to her she was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
“I want to clarify that being at your house should never be the wrong place at the wrong time, and I want the community to be more aware their surroundings and who is in their home and around their home,” she said. “A lot of times you have your apartment complex or your landlord says, ‘hey you have a maintenance person coming to your house at this date and time,’ and a lot of people just accept that, but I want the public to know you have a right to your safety and you have a right to ask questions.”
Burden said that this experience was the scariest day of her life, but also that it turned her from a “regular 22-year-old” into someone with a sense of purpose.
“There are so many people who have touched my life in so many ways, I would tell them, ‘thank you so much’, I feel like they don’t get thanked enough,” she said.
Burden explained that this recovery has been a huge financial burden on her, she is fundraising to support her recovery needs here.