A New Jersey jiu-jitsu purple belt under Dante Rivera is crediting his training in jiu-jitsu with giving him the skills he needed to escape and survive a situation that left him hospitalized with shooting and stab wounds.
Kevin Sheehan, 28, told the Jiu-Jitsu Times that the suspect, named as 25-year-old Julian Lee by New Jersey news outlet Patch, shot him in the back of the neck in an altercation last Monday. “By the grace of God, I was able to get up and fight off multiple stabs and lacerations,” says Sheehan, who said that the suspect is known to him. “I was able to grab the knife from his hand, and then he tried to put me in a rear naked choke. I had to drop the knife because my left arm was paralyzed at the moment, and [I] pulled his hand off my neck and bit him as hard as I could… After I bit him, I grabbed his shirt and ran with him and threw him (Gi training paid off). That was the opportunity to open the door and run out.”
After escaping immediate danger, Sheehan says he ran down the block toward the hospital “screaming for help and slamming on every door on the way hoping someone was going to answer.”
“A man named Kevin a year older than me answered the door and immediately drove me to the hospital. It was probably a mile walk. Not sure I would have made it,” says Sheehan.
Sheehan says the doctors expect him to make a full recovery anywhere between three and six months, though he expects to be “good” in two months. Still, he recognizes just how lucky he is to be alive after such an altercation. “The stars aligned for me. The doctors said if the bullet penetrated another half-inch, I would have been paralyzed or dead immediately.”
In a public Instagram post, Sheehan expressed his appreciation for how his jiu-jitsu experience helped him escape with his life.
“‘Jiu jitsu saved my life.’ Is a common saying among ppl in the bjj community. Most of the time they meant it gave them purpose, or an outlet from this chaotic world. In my case Jiu jitsu literally saved my life. I want to thank each an every person I’ve ever rolled with at all the academies I’ve ever trained at. All those hard fought rounds, all those hours sharpening my technique paid off in the biggest way. Without Jiu-Jitsu there’s a very small chance I’d be posting this right now. I’m forever in debt to this ‘sport’ I love so much.”
Lee was arrested this past week. His charges include first-degree attempted murder, first-degree armed robbery, second-degree possession of a firearm for an unlawful purpose, second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm, third-degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, and fourth-degree unlawful possession of a weapon. He is currently being held at the Monmouth County Correctional Institution as he awaits a court date, according to Patch.