DUNCANVILLE — A Duncanville teen who survived a shooting rampage that left his mother and sister dead has returned to school for the first time with the help of a robot.
Monday, Storm Malone sat behind a desk in his grandmother's Duncanville home using a laptop to control the robot. Equipped with a screen displaying live video of the student, the robot wore a Duncanville jersey as it traveled the hallways on its way to Storm's classes. Students greeted the teen and were able to chat with him via a mounted camera and speakers.
"I'm just really excited to have this opportunity," said the high school freshman. "I couldn't believe it when they told me."
"I think this is going to help him a lot," said Lurlean Smith, Storm's grandmother. "He's an inspiration and a blessing."
In August of 2013, Storm was left with disabling injuries when his mother's ex-boyfriend, Erbie Bowser, went on a shooting spree that left four dead. Toya Smith, Storm's mother; Tasmia Allen, his sister and Dasmine Mitchell, his sister's friend, were all shot that day. While Dasmine and Storm survived the deadly spree, two others were also killed at another home.
After his release from the hospital, Storm's grandmother took over his care.
As Bowser awaits trial, Storm's trying to rebuild his life. Thanks to the robot, he can now interact with friends at school.
The robot was made possible through a program between Region 10 School District and Reggie's Robots. It's a program many hope will expand to help other kids. But, at a cost of nearly $6,000 per unit plus a subscription fee, it's costly. So the group is looking for sponsors.
Storm still has a long road ahead.
"He worries about his handicap and how people will perceive him, but things like this give him independence," Smith said. "He's getting there."
And with each click of the mouse, he's getting closer to yet one more triumph over tragedy.