July 9 started as a regular Friday for Felicia Sanchez Anderson and her husband, Steven Michael Anderson II.
But not long after Steven Anderson made his way out the door of their Waco home to throw out the trash, their lives changed. A man approached Steven and shot him in the face, sending the father of two to the hospital for two weeks and now on a journey to reclaim his life. And they are still not sure why he was shot.
With the kids still in bed, Steven Anderson was winding down for the day after his night shift as a stocker at Lowe’s. Part of his routine was to take out the trash every morning as she was getting ready for the day, Felicia Anderson said.
He went outside, garbage bag in hand, at about 6 a.m. July 9 and was approached by Aaron Laray Ruffin, who police later identified as the shooter. Felicia Anderson said she remembers Ruffin walking up to her husband and mumbling words under his breath before a loud pop took over.
“I didn’t even realize what it was,” she said. “I feel so stupid because I didn’t even realize that the pop was a gun and I don’t think my husband realized it either.”
Steven Anderson, who was shocked, stood holding his face in his hands.
Her voice tenses up as she recalls seeing her husband questioning what had just happened to him.
“He stood there and was like, ‘He shot me. Why did you shoot me?’” she said. “The man was still standing there arguing with my husband and then he ran off in a U-Haul.”
Ruffin is their neighbor’s son-in-law and was in the process of moving in next door, Felicia Anderson said.
After the shooting, she attempted to push her shock aside and help her husband.
“I went into shock and saw the blood all over his hand,” she said. “I grabbed my husband and told him to leave his hand on his face.”
As her stepfather helped her husband, she ran to her neighbor’s house trying to find answers.
“I was going crazy,” Felicia Anderson said. “I was so mad. I started pounding on their door yelling ‘Open up, open up.’”
She said she was able to get ahold of Ruffin’s wife, but she was unable to provide a motive and was just as “shocked as I was.”
The woman was able to provide police with a location where her husband might have gone, and police arrested Ruffin later that morning on an aggravated assault with a deadly weapon charge.
Steven Anderson, meanwhile, was transported to Baylor Scott & White Hillcrest Medical Center and was treated before being transferred to Baylor Scott & White Medical Center — Temple later that day.
“It was just horrible and I wanted him to know that he wasn’t there alone,” Felicia said of the initial time in the hospital.
In the intensive care unit in Temple, he was connected to a breathing tube because of the injuries to his jaw, which was shattered in the shooting, and he was put under sedation for three days, she said.
While in the hospital, he had a tracheotomy, a procedure to create an airway into the trachea through the front of the neck, and a dental surgeon had to wire his mouth shut to install a brace for his jaw.
While Steven Anderson survived the shooting and was discharged from the hospital Friday, the road to recovery is far from over.
Felicia Anderson said he is not able to eat and has to be fed through a tube connected to his stomach three times a day for at least the next eight weeks, and he will also have additional surgeries.
Mentally, he is also struggling, she said.
“He is strong. Like who takes a bullet to the face and still stands? He didn’t even fall to the ground,” she said. “It makes me think he is Superman, but his spirits are down and that is not him. He is usually lively and it takes a lot to get him upset so it’s hard to see him just lying there.”
While Steven Anderson is realizing his situation is only temporary, the family will never be the same.
“We are in constant fear. We don’t know what is going to happen,” Felicia Anderson said. “Will he come back? Will his friends stop by for revenge since he was arrested?”
Explaining the incident to their two sons has also been a challenge. She said their 4-year-old is asking “what happened to daddy?”
He and his 10-year-old brother started staying with family so Felicia Anderson could focus on learning how to take care of her husband. He is recovering at home since their insurance did not cover a rehabilitation facility, or the hospital stay for that matter, Felicia Anderson said.
“It would have made me feel better if he was able to go to a facility because I know he would have gotten better care,” she said. “But this is my family so I learned what I needed to learn to take care of him as best as I can.”
Other family members set up a GoFundMe page to help while Steven Anderson is out of work for an unknown period and hospital bills pile up.
“We have no idea what we are going to do or how we are going to make it,” Felicia Anderson said.
She said a lack of updates from Waco Police on the charges against Ruffin has added to her anxiety. She said she has not gotten any indication of a possible motive.
“I’ve called multiple times to follow up and have not heard anything,” Felicia Anderson said.
Ruffin remained in McLennan County Jail as of Wednesday on a second-degree felony charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and a charge, from a different case, of unlawful carry of a weapon on a licensed premises. He is being held on $225,000 bond.
Felicia Anderson said she hopes her story, as painful as it is for her family, will help educate people on gun safety and how weapons in the hands of someone who should not have them have the potential to destroy lives.
“That gun could end up in the hands of someone like the one that shot my husband. … It is nothing short of a miracle that he has survived this,” she said.