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BEACH: MISSION VIEJO

Young Gunshot Victim Takes Her Cautionary Message to the Web

May 09, 1998|YUNG KIM

While she does love Leonardo DiCaprio and the music duo K-Ci & Jo-Jo, Shanelle Johannessen isn't planning a typical Web page.

Instead, the 13-year-old Mission Viejo girl is posting crime scene photos of the bloody hands of her friend who accidentally shot her and an urgent warning: "Guns are not cool."

Less than a year ago, John and Diane Johannessen spent three days wondering if their daughter would survive. But today, Shanelle will have a donated computer set up in her home as part of an effort to help save lives.

"I just tell them that when they see a gun, they should run away and tell an adult," Shanelle said. "Speaking in front of people, telling them about what happened, is not a big deal compared to what already happened."

Shanelle was accidentally shot last July in her friend's home in Rancho Santa Margarita. Her friend, who found a gun in the unlocked briefcase of her mother's fiance, fired at Shanelle, believing the gun was empty.

Since the day the bullet entered the left side of her neck, shattering her jaw, Shanelle said, her life has been altered permanently.

She spent months drinking blended chicken pot pies through her wired-shut jaw and mumbling through clenched teeth. Since she regained use of her mouth about eight months ago, Shanelle has been on a whirlwind speaking tour of Orange County schools.

The $2,000 computer and the Website were donated by Codeseven, a Website development company in Riverside.

"We listened to her story on the radio and had our hearts pierced," Mark Hammar, co-founder of Codeseven, said. "She is taking a proactive approach to keep kids from getting hurt, and we want her to prosper."

The site, at http://www.shanelle.org, is expected to be running by Friday. It will also give people the opportunity to send letters to Shanelle's e-mail address: shanelle@shanelle.org.

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