Despite two life-threatening setbacks and doctors’ advice to terminate care, the 31-year-old man who was struck in the head by a bullet during a drive-by shooting earlier this year outside a downtown Spokane bar continues his battle toward recovery.
Nathanael Beier, an Army veteran who served in Afghanistan, was standing in front of Lucky’s Irish Pub, 408 W. Sprague Ave., when he was shot around 1:30 a.m. April 9, according to court documents.
Beier reportedly yelled for people to get down during the shooting. Two others — Tonya Roberts, 48, and Katelyn Corigliano, 30 — were also wounded.
Roberts was a taxi cab driver and sitting in her vehicle when she was shot in the head, documents said. Corigliano was also standing in front of the bar when she was shot in the leg, causing a compound fracture.
Beier and Roberts were on life support and not expected to recover, according to the court documents filed two days after the shooting.
However, Roberts was stabilized and transferred from Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center, according to hospital spokeswoman Ariana Lake in May. Meanwhile, Beier bounced around a few medical facilities, including Sacred Heart initially, and is now receiving treatment at Hunter Holmes McGuire Hospital, a Veterans Affairs facility in Richmond, Virginia, said Kym Beier, Beier’s mother.
“It’s just been a long, hard road,” Kym Beier said.
Johnathan Love, 30, was arrested after the shooting and charged with three counts of drive-by shooting and three counts of first-degree assault. He is jailed in lieu of a roughly $1 million bond and is scheduled for trial Dec. 19.
Kym Beier said doctors consider her son “minimally conscious.”
She said her son’s speech is clear and he makes sense for the most part, but he does not communicate fully. For example, she said he might respond , but he has a short attention span, so he might stare at the lights in his hospital room or start chatting about another topic.
She said he still jokes and has a sense of humor.
Kym Beier said her son can move his limbs a bit and is learning to sit up on his own.
He undergoes regular physical, speech and other types of therapies. He is scheduled to be transferred to a long-term care facility next month.
“He has a ways to go, you know,” Kym Beier said. “But he’s come so far for us as a family. We see that.”
She said she and family members last visited Nate Beier Sept. 7. Visits are limited because of COVID-19 restrictions.
“He just laughed the whole day,” Kym Beier said. “(Hospital staff) had not seen him that happy. Him and I just had some good times.”
She said he recognized his sisters and asked about his father.
“It was tough to say goodbye as we don’t know when we’ll see him again,” Kym Beier wrote in a text message.
She said they have video calls with Nate Beier, but they’re not the same as an in-person visit.
While a bullet nearly took Nate Beier’s life, a lung infection and sepsis were his next life-threatening challenges.
Kym Beier said her son developed acute respiratory distress syndrome, or ARDS, six days after the shooting.
He managed to recover from ARDS and was sent in early May to Northern Idaho Advanced Care Hospital in Post Falls, she said. However, he returned to Sacred Heart after developing sepsis from his head wound.
He recovered from that condition as well and was eventually moved in early June to LaCrosse Health and Rehabilitation Center in Coeur d’Alene, Kym Beier said. She said he still was not breathing on his own at that point.
In June, Kym Beier said her son, who could not move any body parts below his neck at that point, started moving his arms and legs slightly and made sounds and said words, like “Jesus” and “mom.”
In mid-July, Nate Beier was airlifted to the Virginia hospital where he resides today.
Kym Beier said doctors early on pushed for her and family to terminate care. She said doctors told her it would be a miracle if Nate Beier was in a care home on a ventilator for the rest of his life.
But he pushed through.
“We’re still believing that he’s going to be better,” she said. “He’s better than they ever thought.”
Kym Beier thanked police officers, paramedics, doctors and everyone else who treated her son. She said she wished she could give each of them a financial bonus.
“ ‘Thank you’ just doesn’t seem enough for people who serve our community so selflessly,” she said.
She said she does not hold “ill will” toward the shooter and hopes he gets the help he needs. However, she said she hopes the justice system delivers an appropriate punishment for Love, but is scared because judges continue to give defendants “slaps on the wrist.”
“At some point, you need to hold people accountable for what they’ve done,” she said.
She added the victims that day not only include her son and the two women who were injured but also the witnesses who were traumatized.
“I hope that courts look beyond just the three people that took a bullet,” she said.