Jimmy McGeehan recovering in Pennsylvania | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Jimmy McGeehan recovering in Pennsylvania

Gregory Crofton, Tahoe Daily Tribune

Jimmy McGeehan heard what sounded like tires popping just before 3 a.m. He went outside in his boxers to investigate.

He found Donald Lawson with a 9 mm Smith & Wesson.

McGeehan recognized Lawson from a Super Bowl weekend traffic incident. Lawson became enraged when McGeehan motored past him on Kingsbury Grade. Lawson tailed McGeehan to his home on South Benjamin Street. There, the men argued, then parted ways.

Lawson’s rage grew during the next 10 days and came to a head early Feb. 6, the night McGeehan heard the sounds outside his house.

“I thought about how he made me feel that night (of the traffic incident),” said Lawson, the day he was sentenced to 50 years in prison. “He made me feel like a punk kid. I decided to do something to his truck, some kind of vandalism to make him mad. I made a horrible decision.”

Lawson, 32, slashed the tires on McGeehan’s truck.

“In the course of vandalizing the vehicle (McGeehan) confronted me at his residence,” Lawson said. “I drew my weapon on him and attempted to scare him and in my drunken state I shot him.”

Lawson fired 15 times, stopping only when his gun jammed. Eleven of the 15 bullets, all fired at close range, ripped into the ex-college football player’s thick frame.

McGeehan’s roommates heard the gun shots and rushed outside. An ambulance drove his pierced body over Kingsbury Grade to Minden where a helicopter waited to take him to Washoe Medical Center.

Somehow, McGeehan survived the shooting.

In April, he was well enough to go back home, a suburb of Philadelphia. His family paid $15,000 for an air ambulance with money raised at South Shore raffles and benefits. Many who donated knew McGeehan as a bartender at Mott Canyon Tavern & Grill.

Now, nearly a year later, McGeehan is up and walking with a cane. His older of two brothers, Dennis, said Jimmy remains optimistic even though news from doctors isn’t always inspiring.

“He’s not going to be like how he was,” Dennis said. “But who knows? The way he works, the way he thinks. Everything is going good.”

Jimmy took bullets in the arms, legs, torso and one bullet grazed his cheek. Two fingers on his left hand had to be amputated because of the wounds.

“I’m doing OK, I’m getting there. It hasn’t even been a year,” Jimmy said by telephone, through a thick Philly accent. “Considering what my body went through I’m doing pretty good. I have more good days than bad days.”

Jimmy, who turned 30 a month after the shooting, is eager for a surgery scheduled in February. His doctor plans to stretch his leg tendons, which began to deteriorate during the months it took for his body to heal. The operation will hopefully speed rehabilitation.

“Physically I’m not where I want to be, but it’s just a matter of time,” he said. “I need the surgeries coming up. I still can’t use my left hand.”

When asked about his attacker, Jimmy spoke in a serious tone, but not one seething with anger.

“Unfortunately what happened is that I ran into the wrong person,” McGeehan said. “When I was getting shot, he was shooting me, I thought I was dead.

“I have bad days. Sometimes I don’t want to see people, but for the most part I’m glad I’m alive. I hope he is not having fun in prison — what goes around comes around. I’m not going to say anything bad about him, but I won’t say anything nice either. If he fell out of a window, I wouldn’t care either way.”

Jimmy is living with his parents in Glenside, Pa. Dennis said he often hears the latest Tahoe snow reports from Jimmy, who became an avid snowboarder after trying the sport for the first time last winter.

“I miss snowboarding. Hopefully next winter I’ll be able to do that,” Jimmy McGeehan said. “I can’t believe how much snow you’re getting.”

Will he come to South Shore to do his snowboarding?

“I don’t know if I’ll live out there, but I’ll be able to come out. If I move out there again I wouldn’t be surprised. It’s beautiful. I loved it. The mountains, the lake, the laid-back attitude.”

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