Montco man who survived horrific shooting as child in Philadelphia is trying to help others

Oronde McClain was just 10 when he was shot outside a restaurant in Philadelphia while he was on an errand for his mother.

ByBrian Taff and Heather Grubola WPVI logo
Friday, January 26, 2024
Man who survived horrific shooting as child is trying to help others
Montco man who survived horrific shooting as child in Philadelphia is trying to help others

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- In 2023, there were 1,666 shooting victims. Of those, 77%, or more than 1,200, survived their injuries.

In a new installment of Hope's Heartbeat, we meet a man who defied the odds with a horrific gunshot injury as a child. He's now turned that trauma into healing for others.

"I heard the shots," said Oronde McClain of Douglass Township, Montgomery County. "I got shot in the back of the head."

It was April 3, 2000. McClain was just 10 years old when, on an errand for his mother, he was shot outside a restaurant in Philadelphia's East Mount Airy section.

"I died for two minutes and 17 seconds, had surgery. Then I got helicoptered -- like maybe three, four days-- got helicoptered to Children's Hospital of Philadelphia where I fell into a coma for seven and a half weeks."

When he woke, he couldn't speak for six months. He had to relearn how to walk, talk and write with his left hand since his right was partially paralyzed.

He was also forced to wear a helmet for two years.

"Every time I looked in the mirror I got down and they said, 'You can't take the helmet off,'" he recalled.

Through his entire recovery, McClain credits the unwavering support of his family and a childhood friend who eventually became his wife.

"Things fall into place, and still to this day she protects me."

McClain believes he was saved to save others from the same trauma.

"I was brought back to this Earth to help."

He mentors families of those killed by gun violence. He also speaks to students about his childhood.

Speaking to a class, he explained the shooting: "The bullet exploded and it had 36 different fragments in my head."

And now his life story is part of a documentary at Temple University titled "The Second Trauma."

"Two off-duty cops ran to the scene, picked me up, put me in a patrol car," McClain retells in the film.

"I'm giving people hope. I'm giving them the energy, the good energy that they can make it," he said.

McClain is also working with city leaders to change the narrative of gun violence from reporting what happened to finding real solutions.

The 33-year-old now lives in Montgomery County with his wife and six children.

McClain's shooter has never been found.