Two Southern University students are fighting for their lives in a hospital following a mass shooting at a Houston nightclub earlier this month.
Amariah Pridgen and Tamaya Smothers are best friends, and they were together at the Touch Lounge nightclub on Jan. 15 when bullets started flying.
It’s been tragedy after tragedy for the students on “The Bluff.” In December 2022, three members of the Human Jukebox were killed while changing a flat tire, and another student was shot to death while at a party on Christmas night.
“Nothing in my tenure here, as a university, have we dealt with that many tragedies back to back,” said Dr. Valaray Irvin, executive director of the student counseling center at Southern University.
Amariah Pridgen was shot twice in her abdomen and once in her back. She spent eleven days on a ventilator. Her father, Clarence Pridgen, told WBRZ that doctors were finally able to remove the tube Thursday (Jan. 26).
Pridgen said they received the terrifying phone call the same night the shooting happened.
“It’s just been tough, man, not knowing if your daughter is going to make it. We drove here four hours not knowing. All we knew is she was shot. We jumped up with the clothes on our back, and we drove here,” Pridgen said.
Tamaya Smothers was shot four times, once in the lower back and three different places in her legs. Her doctors just moved her from the ICU to a regular room.
“They are just working on her mobility and trying to regain use of her left leg again, so she’s been wheelchair training and learning to use a walker to get around,” said Tamaya’s mother, Kay Hampton.
Both parents say they are blessed to still have their girls alive.
“They are very good girls. I mean, very undeserving of what happened. Just came out here for one day. Ready to go home, start spring semester of college. They were excited about pre-nursing,” Hampton said.
If any students are dealing with emotional trauma, Dr. Irvin is urging them to talk to someone.
“Lean on each other, express what you’re feeling, don’t deny it. Grief doesn’t have to be done in isolation. And when it is done in isolation, it’s much harder to get through,” Irvin said.
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