On the morning of Dec. 6, 2023, gunshots echoed through the University of Nevada, Las Vegas campus, claiming the lives of three professors and leaving a fourth victim injured.
Natalie Matarazzo, paralyzed from the waist down, found herself in the midst of chaos near Beam Hall on the plaza. Overwhelmed and unsure, she froze.
Txitximee Lee, a first-year student at UNLV and a Navy veteran inspired by her father's challenging immigration journey from Laos, responded heroically. Without hesitation, she ran to Matarazzo, offering assistance.
"It was literally a split second. I just ran to her and said, 'Do you want help? Do you want me to push you?' The minute she said yes, I said, 'Move your hands.' Nothing else mattered to me; I just wanted to get her to safety," Lee said.
With determination and selflessness, Lee pushed Matarazzo in her wheelchair for a mile all the way back to Matarazzo's apartment. In the chaos of the moment, they lost sight of each other in the crowd, but their connection endured.
"I didn't stop until I got her home. For me, once I completed that, it was like a checklist off for me, and then I just went back to work," Lee reflected on the fateful day.
Despite the challenges, the bond between Matarazzo and Lee persisted. We first shared Matarazzo's story four days after the shooting.
Matarazzo's father, deeply moved by Lee's selflessness, expressed his gratitude, stating, "To know that someone cared enough to be selfless and help Natalie is just tremendous."
As both women reflect on that fateful day, Matarazzo acknowledges the tragedy but finds solace in the unexpected friendship that blossomed from it.
"I'm definitely always going to look back on it and think this happened, and it was absolutely terrible, but one thing good came out of it: TT," she said.
This story was originally published by Isabella Martin at Scripps News Las Vegas.
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