Albany - - A teenager police say was an innocent target of gang violence speaks out. Eighteen year old De'Ariesus Williams was shot four times outside of his grandmother's home on Elm Street in Albany last month.
He just returned to school Tuesday. In a story you'll see only on WALB.com, we speak with Williams about recovery and the gang lifestyle so popular among people his age.
De'Ariesus Williams wondered if he'd ever be able to beat a drum again.
"It felt good. I haven't played in 17 days," he says.
After being shot four times in the head, back, and chest, Williams re-united with his fellow band members at Monroe High School Tuesday.
"Everybody ran up to me hugging me saying we missed you and we were waiting for you to come back."
The 18 year old was shot randomly outside of his grandmother's home last month. Albany police arrested 18 year old Montrell Mallard who admitted he shot up a rival gang's territory. But they're still looking for 20 year old Kentrell Reed.
The shooting raised questions of whether Williams is a gang member himself. On a myspace page created by friends, you see a picture of the teenager holding up some type of symbol.
"That's like for the Williams brothers or the Williams boys, that's what we call it."
He says it's a symbol of endearment he and his cousins created years ago, not to be confused with a gang sign.
"That's different. You have to cross your hands," he explains.
And though Williams knows people involved in gangs, he says he's got too much going for him to ever get involved.
"I don't even like gangs. Anyone who talk to me about that, I ask why are they in a gang. They can't defend for their selves or are they just in it to try to be cool?"
The Monore Honors student is a section leader in the band. He says he's just glad to be back in their company, a bond they say is stronger than any gang.
"That's somebody we all look up to...he came through so I'm proud of that," says classmate Terrence Luster.
Even though sometimes the teen still wonders, why did it happen to him.
"Yeah I do. I'm like 'why did it have to happen to me?' I guess it had to happen. God let that happen for a reason and he let me stay for a reason," Williams says.
Perhaps to continue being that inspiration to others and an instrument in the ever changing music of life.
Even though Williams returned to practice Tuesday, his doctors say he can't pick up any drums or heavy equipment for another month. Monroe's Principal says she's glad to have him back. She told us she "thinks of the world of De'Ariesus".