reaching out to others
Brother's Keeper members Dietrich Smith (Far left), Terrence Clark (center, left), and Brandon Morris (far right) have a follow up mentorship meeting with Maurice Puckett (center, right) at the Rehabilitation Institute of St. Louis on Friday afternoon.
(Erik M. Lunsford/P-D)

By Leah Thorsen

Terrence Clark remembers what his mother told him as a child. She said that when you do something wrong, you end up in one of two places: jail or dead.

But he found another place to end up just for being in the wrong place — a wheelchair.

A stray bullet during a gunfight pierced the headrest of his car and hit his back as he sat at the corner of Natural Bridge Avenue and Kingshighway hanging out with friends on an April night 18 years ago. He was 18 and hasn't walked since. No one was ever arrested, police said.

Clark, of Creve Coeur, is one of three founders of the Brother's Keeper organization, a group of paralyzed men who work with other paralyzed victims of violence. var TFSMFlash_PRETAG=""; var TFSMFlash_POSTTAG=""; var TFSMFlash_VERSION="8"; var TFSMFlash_WMODE="window"; var TFSMFlash_OASCLICK=""; var TFSMFlash_SWFCLICKVARIABLE="?clickTAG="+TFSMFlash_ OASCLICK+"?"; var TFSMFlash_SWFFILE=""+TFSMFlash_SWFCLICKVARIABLE; var TFSMFlash_FSCOMMAND=""; var TFSMFlash_IMAGEALTERNATE=""; var TFSMFlash_OASALTTEXT=""; var TFSMFlash_OASTARGET="_blank"; var TFSMFlash_OASPROTOCOL="http://"; var TFSMFlash_OASDIM="WIDTH='300' HEIGHT='250'"; var TFSMFlash_OASADID="OAS_RMF_Frame1_FLASH"; document.write('');

Their motto is "Brothers in one accord, overcoming adversities."

The group formed in March and united the three men, all who are paralyzed because of bullets and who had been working on their own to help those like them.

Since then, they've reached out to about a dozen victims of violence who suffered spinal cord injuries. They visit hospitalized victims and tell them what to expect and what they need to do. They hold monthly meetings and hope to expand their outreach to include searching for jobs and going to juvenile detention centers.

"When I got injured, I couldn't find anyone in a wheelchair who looked like me," said Dietrich Smith. He was 23 when Terry Bryant shot him six times at the corner of Washington and Jefferson avenues in 1982. The shooting was in retaliation for Smith's testimony against Bryant's brother in a shooting case. Bryant's brother, a juvenile, had been sentenced to 60 days. Bryant is serving a life sentence.

"We're the unseen casualties of the urban war," said Smith, who lives in Florissant. Murders garner much of the spotlight in this war — as of last week, 97 people had been killed in St. Louis, according to police, compared to 69 at the same time last year.

But often little attention is paid to the shootings that don't kill. St. Louis police said shootings are classified as assaults in their records, which makes it difficult to determine how many have occurred this year.

Some nights, there are several shootings in the c