The Chapel Hill community is coming together to support Robert Perry, a delivery driver for Insomnia Cookies on Franklin Street who was left paralyzed after being robbed and shot in December.
Perry was out for a late-night delivery when he was approached by another car and three individuals who then shot him multiple times and stole his car, according to a Facebook post from his brother, Ryan Perry.
Ran Northam, interim communications manager for the Town of Chapel Hill, said Orange County Emergency Services were in the area at the time of the incident and were the first to arrive on the scene.
Perry was then rushed to UNC Hospitals where he received emergency surgery to repair his punctured lung, according to the Facebook post. A bullet that impaled Perry's spine was unable to be removed.
Co-workers of Perry have set up a GoFundMe to provide further help. The GoFundMe, set up with a goal of $5,000, has now reached over $49,000 in donations.
Susan Coe, Perry's co-worker and the GoFundMe organizer, said while Insomnia is paying his medical bills, it was her hope that the fundraiser would go above and beyond its goal of $5,000 as Perry will still need to pay his household bills while out of work and possibly buy a new car.
Hibachi & Co. on Franklin Street has also supported Perry by posting flyers with a link to the GoFundMe page. Kevin Griffin, an employee at the restaurant, said the amount of customers who stop to read the message about Perry is amazing.
Griffin said he didn't expect to hear of a driver getting shot and robbed, especially in the Chapel Hill area.
“The only thing we can do to help him is continue to support the GoFundMe, support Insomnia and try to band together instead of hurting each other,” Griffin said.
According to updates posted to the GoFundMe page, Perry is currently at a spine rehabilitation center working on his muscle strength and attempting to learn how to walk again.
In addition to supporting his GoFundMe, Coe said that emotional support could also help Perry. She said if anyone in the community has overcome a similar diagnosis to Perry's, he would gladly speak to them for encouragement through this difficult time.
“If there is someone in the community who would like to open up to Rob and share their experience, strength and hope with Rob I think that would be amazing,” Coe said.
Ryan Perry, Robert Perry's brother, said in the Facebook post that while he is thankful that his brother has improved enough to move to a spinal cord facility, the individuals who hurt him are still out there walking free.
“That’s something Robert can’t do because they took that from him while he was just trying to do his job,” Ryan Perry said in the post.
He urged his followers to share any information they may have concerning the identity of the suspects.
“His recovery will be a long process but I remain optimistic for him,” he said.
Ryan Perry did not respond to a Daily Tar Heel request for comment.
Northam said no arrests have been made in the case, and since the case is active, no suspects will be named until an official arrest is made.
He said cases of this nature are handled by the investigative department, and the department works to make connections to what happened, find leads and share the case with other jurisdictions.
Northam said community members should remain aware of their surroundings and trust their gut, whether they are walking down Franklin Street or somewhere less populated.
“This situation is unique for our community and we hope that it remains unique,” Northam said.
To donate to the GoFundMe supporting Robert Perry, visit the fundraiser page here.
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.