Judge Terrence Berg and his wife Anita Sevier have had more than a few surprises in the last year.
Not only was the federal judge shot outside of their home in Detroit, Anita had to go from being a caregiver to her husband to a patient herself this year.
But despite those challenges, this family is proud of Detroit and they have a call to action for all of us.
Judge Berg is hard to keep up with - literally.
After a gunman fired a bullet into his knee a year ago, this federal judge spent months rehabbing his leg with a grueling 5 hours a day in physical therapy.
It worked. And even though he still can’t return to running marathons, Berg hasn’t missed a beat – either on the bench or in his goal to end violence in Detroit.
“We had something bad happen to us – violent happen to us,” he says. “But then we experienced that community response. Which is a Detroit response! This is what it was for us – and that is our experience in this city. “
On March 5, 2015 at around 9 pm, Berg was bringing his trashcans in from the curb when 2 men tried to get into his home in the University District. Berg refused – knowing his wife Anita Sevier and their teenage son were inside.
“One of them just fired a gun and hit me right in the knee,” he says.
Detroit police rushed the judge to the hospital inside a patrol car - where he faced surgeries and uncertainty about his recovery.
Within hours of the shooting – Anita was speaking out, defending the city and the neighborhood the Berg’s have called home for 27 years.
“The city is worth holding on to,” she says. “And working to make better, and this is not - we don’t throw everything away with a bad experience. Instead what can we do to improve things?”
The Berg family soon teamed up with their nearby church, hosting the Walk for Hope to bring the community together in peace.
Unable to drive to his courtroom in the federal court in Flint for months, Judge Berg had to keep up on his docket from home. It was during that time that Anita got some frightening news.
“The notice came in the mail the week he was shot, telling me to get my mammogram. I thought okay – we’ll deal with that later, “ she says. “So in June when life was calming down, I headed off to do that, and right away the doctor said I had a problem.”
That problem was breast cancer.
“The way I felt was really? A little bit of ‘really God’ – but that’s okay – Okay!! This is what I’m expected to handle or deal with or whatever, and so I have,” she says now.
After radiation, Anita is doing better and the couple is focused on helping their three children cope with the diagnosis and the shooting.
In December, the Wayne County Prosecutor charged 23-year-old Kevin Smith in the shooting case – saying Smith was involved in as many as 13 other robberies near the Berg’s home.
Next month, Judge Berg will likely have to testify at Smith’s trial – finding himself on the other side of the bench.
“Now I know what it’s like to be the witness or the victim too,” he says.
And that’s not the only thing this former federal prosecutor learned during the last year.
“One thing I think it definitely has done, is made me able to empathize more with victims of gun violence,” he says. “The ironic thing is, in many of our criminal cases, when we read about the background of the defendant who’s charged – many of them have been gun shot victims as well. And so that also gives me a little bit of insight into that kind of challenge and that kind of suffering that that person had to go through. “
It’s that suffering that Judge Berg and his family want to end. They want to invite everyone to participate in the Walk for Hope at Gesu Catholic Church in Detroit tomorrow, on Good Friday.
Everything starts at 5:30pm and Judge Berg will be leading that walk, truly thankful that he can walk.