Project Detail: One Forever Moment: Consequences of an Unintentional Shooting


Reportage and Documentary 2022




Michelle Gabel



Project Info

One Forever Moment: Consequences of an Unintentional Shooting

One Forever Moment explores familial love, trauma and healing after the unintentional gun injury of Michelle Fox, a mother of two girls, in her home in New York State. The shotgun blast, caused by her live-in ex-husband, severely damaged Michelle's face, took away her sight and sense of smell, and significantly changed her life, as well as her loved ones’ lives.

One moment, one action, changed several lives forever. As Michelle Fox breastfed her 3-month-old daughter on the bed, her live-in ex-husband approached to show off his shotgun. When he pointed it in Michelle's direction, the weapon discharged.

The blast, ruled unintentional, damaged Michelle's face, and took her sight and sense of smell. After painful surgeries and a long recovery, Michelle moved with her two daughters into an addition to her parents' home, where Michelle's mother, Kathleen, helped day to day and kept the family together.

In the United States, where there are more guns than people, media outlets report shootings daily, but the long-term physical, emotional and mental health of survivors, their families and communities is rarely discussed.

For Michelle and her family, the traumatic effects are there, but so are strength, resilience and love. Michelle has forgiven her ex-husband, who is still in his children's lives. He received five years’ probation after the shooting.

My collaboration with Michelle began in 2014, five years after her injury. A Lugano Award would allow me to document the next chapter as Michelle, 42, moves into a low-income apartment for seniors and people with disabilities.

Michelle and her daughters lost their home after Michelle’s mother died suddenly in 2019. They moved in with relatives, who recently asked Michelle to leave. She now lives with a friend, apart from her youngest child.

Michelle looks forward to moving into community housing, where she expects to meet new friends and join group activities, while staying active in her children's lives.

I intend to publish this story on various media platforms, prepare an exhibit and publish a book to raise awareness of the long-lasting effects of unintentional domestic shootings. I hope the public discussion will lead to improvements in support systems for survivors, as well as promote common sense gun laws to help curb this uniquely American public health crisis.