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Football player paralyzed protecting girlfriend from stray bullet

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SEVERN, MD (WBAL/CNN) – A football player at West Virginia’s Marshall University was shot in the back at a New Year’s Eve party, leaving him paralyzed.

Larry Aaron III, 19, was home in Columbia, MD, on his holiday break from college when he attended a New Year’s Eve party he and his friends saw advertised on social media.

The 19-year-old’s parents say a fight broke out near their son and his girlfriend, and someone started shooting.

“And my son stepped in front of his girlfriend to shield her, and one of the bullets got him,” said Aaron III’s father, Larry Aaron Jr.

The bullet lodged in the 19-year-old’s spinal cord. Doctors can’t operate because that might do more damage, so they have to leave it there.

Aaron III, a lifelong athlete who attends Marshall on a football scholarship, is now paralyzed from the waist down.

"He has his moments. He's been very calm, but he has had a few breakdowns and that's to be expected,” said Aaron III’s mother, Melissa Aaron.

Police are investigating to find out who fired the shots, but they estimate there were more than 100 people at the party, many from out of state.

Officers are asking for help from people who attended the party in order to track down witnesses or possible suspects.

The victim’s parents say they’re left feeling helpless and upset, with they and their son’s life changed forever by the act of violence.

"I'm so upset. I know they say you're not supposed to ask why, but you know, my son had everything going for him,” Aaron Jr. said. "It's devastating to our family. I mean, L [Larry] was very loved and very liked in our community and at Marshall. It’s just ridiculous that something like this has to happen, and what can we do? Nothing. It’s frustrating."

A GoFundMe page has been created to help with Aaron III’s recovery.

Police say charges could be brought against the homeowners, who were not present at the time of the shooting.

Copyright 2018 WBAL, Aaron Family via CNN. All rights reserved.