On Thanksgiving morning, Ellie Richardson, the bar manager at Nick Lachey's Cincinnati restaurant, was shot in the face. Now, she's speaking out after the suspect turned himself in on Thursday.
"I just am so overwhelmed with the way the community has pulled together and done so much for me," the 27-year-old Lachey's employee told WCPO Friday. "Words can't even describe how grateful I am."
Lavoris Hightower, 36, turned himself into police on Thursday and was charged with attempted murder, two felony counts of assault, having weapons while under disability and tampering with evidence.
Richardson told WCPO that she's "100 percent sure" that Hightower is the man who shot her on Nov. 23. "The only other explanation would be if he has a twin that looks exactly like him … that was him," she said.
The shooting happened when Richardson was walking with her boyfriend across the street from the restaurant. A car almost hit the couple and her boyfriend yelled at the driver. She told WCPO that the driver pulled out a gun, which her boyfriend saw.
Richardson credited her boyfriend with saving her life. She said he tried to pull her away from the bullet. It hit her in the left side of her face, through the nasal cavity and stopped on the right side. Her doctors thought she might lose her vision or suffer brain damage, but thankfully that didn't happen. She was only in the hospital for three days.
Richardson, who has a 3-year-old son, said she hoped the shooting doesn't scare people away from the area.
Hightower's attorney, Clyde Bennett, told WCPO Thursday that his client is the victim of an overzealous police department.
"I think there was an attempt by the Cincinnati police department to hold somebody accountable so that everybody could still feel comfortable eating, drinking and having a good time in Over-the-Rhine," Bennett told the station. "That's not the law though."
Lachey, a member of the boy band 98 Degrees, tweeted a link to a fundraising page for Richardson on Nov. 25.
"Please help Ellie and her family get through this most difficult time. Thank you," the singer wrote.
Please help Ellie and her family get through this most difficult time. Thank you!!https://t.co/aF2tPmX9kJ— Nick Lachey (@NickLachey) November 25, 2017
Lachey and his brother Drew, who co-owns the bar, also announced a charity show for Richardson. The show is scheduled for Dec. 15.