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Tammy Peterson, middle, depended on support from her sisters Renae Casperson, left, and Lynn DeVault, to survive a near-death experience four years ago. Peterson will tell of her experiences at 10 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 22, at Lakewood Community Church. Submitted photo

A journey of survival: Woman to speak on personal tragedy

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It was Nov. 11, 2005, when Tammy Peterson returned to her home in Warroad to find her estranged boyfriend waiting for her. He was drunk and had a .22 caliber rifle in his hand.

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As Tammy tried to escape out the door, he chased her and began to shoot - 11 bullets tore through Tammy's body. The shooter took his own life, but Tammy fought to survive.

After a neighbor called for help, Peterson was airlifted by MeritCare LifeFlight to Fargo.

In little more than four years to the day of the incident, Peterson will tell all at 10 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 22, at Lakewood Community Church in Bemidji.

She said she hopes to inspire and motivate others with her story, her road to recovery through multiple surgeries and months of rehabilitation.

Doctors had told Peterson she was a paraplegic, but she never gave up home, drawing strength from family and her faith in God. A year after the shooting, she was walking, using only a cane for support.

"A lot of people in the region heard about what happened," said Lynn DeVault of Bemidji, Peterson's sister. "They're always asking me how she's doing."

Today, Peterson continues to live in Warroad and works as a bookkeeper at a local drugstore. She has even re-visited the house where the shooting took place.

"Even though (the shooter) was never abusive to me during the seven years I was with him, I want to tell the people out there who are being abused to get out and not be afraid," said Peterson.

Some days are harder than others, said Peterson, but she makes herself get out of bed and stay active.

"Before, I took my life for granted," she said. "Many times I would say, 'I wish I never had to work so I could sit home all day.' I almost had to. It bugs me when people say that now."

There will be a free turkey dinner provided to all guests who attend Peterson's talk at the church, located at 5097 Scribner Road N.W. near Wilton.

Both Peterson's sisters will be in attendance. DeVault said she will also be available to answer questions on dealing with a family struggles.

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