HOUSTON - She was just 13-years-old when someone opened fire into her school bus as she was headed home from HISD’s Lanier Middle School. Now, Halloween is no longer a holiday, but the day Crystal Munks was shot.
For 25 years now, Munks has spent the day after Halloween feeling grateful she’s alive after being shot on her school bus on Boyles Street back in 1997.
"That’s been my Halloween memory, celebrating the anniversary of living and not dying," Munks explains.
So even on a rainy day like today, it’s a beautiful one for this childhood shooting victim, who is marking the 25th anniversary of surviving being shot on her school bus on October 31, 1997.
"Normally the day after Halloween I just celebrate God’s goodness and the fact that I came within moments of death."
The bus was left riddled with bullet holes that day in 1997. An 8th grader, Crystal, and her schoolmates were heading home from HISD’s Lanier Middle and a group of boys on bikes, who were never caught, surrounded the school bus. At least one of them opened fire, leaving one little girl grazed by a bullet and Munks was shot.
"It grazed my left arm, then went into my left side, hit my lung and collapsed my lung, went through my esophagus, split my liver in half," Munks explains.
Her school uniform was left almost unrecognizable.
"My khaki pants and my shirt was filling up with blood."
She was able to get out a few words to arriving paramedics who saved her life, saying, "I don’t want to die. I’m 13. I want to live."
The shooting made Halloween frightening for her for a very different reason than for most people. In fact, she didn’t even drive through Denver Harbor where the shooting happened for 19 years, after getting a job teaching special needs kids right down the street from where she was shot.
"It was hard. I didn’t want to go back, but I had to overcome the trauma."
School shootings take her back to that tragic day, and she still suffers PTSD.
"Fireworks, the sound of anything that sounds like a gunshot," but she didn’t just survive the shooting. Crystal Munks has thrived. This wife and mother of two also has her Masters Degree, and she’s been a special education teacher for years.
"I think I survived so that I could help other people. I really am just thankful for every day, because it helped me to realize every day isn’t promised. I feel like it made me more spiritual and connected me more to God," she explains.