CHESTER, VA (WWBT) - A charity car wash was held Friday in the parking lot of Pietro's Pizza as Michael Dudley's friends wanted to do something to help with his medical bills.
The Chester teen was shot while his family says he was trying to help a stranger at the Chesterfield restaurant Wednesday night. Cars and donations flowed in constantly between 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday.
The community is coming together for 18-year-old Michael Dudley. He's recovering at VCU Medical Center from a gunshot wound to his stomach following a deadly domestic related shooting at the popular pizza parlor.
Each spray of the hose and scrub of the rag, its a labor of love for a friend who many in this Chesterfield community are calling a hero.
"We are behind Michael," said Zach Seymour. "What he did was so brave. We are behind him and we want to help him in the least way possible."
Seymour is good friends with Dudley. And just a day and a half after Michael was shot in his stomach, this group came up with a plan to help pay for his medical bills.
"It just shows that we care about everyone in this community," Seymour said.
A steady stream of cars filled the spirits of these kids. Donations big and small and a community uniting as one -- following a story that is affecting hundreds of people, like Nancy Brockwell.
"It's just so sad," she said. "That's the type of community we live in. And something like this is so rare here. And, it just breaks your heart."
Blair Wright helped organize this event. She's been putting signs up all over town letting people know about the fundraiser.
"Michael was so excited," she said. "He feels good about it."
Yesterday, Seymour visited his high school buddy in the hospital.
"The first he did when I walked in the room, I was like, 'How are you doing man?,'" Seymour said. "And he was like, 'Besides that gunshot wound, I'm doing alright!' And that gave me a laugh. And he got a laugh. And when he got said he said he was just trying to help out a woman."
Now, he's is helping his friend out. And this community is helping the football star turned hero. And for the first time, his family members spoke out about how they've been doing since they got word of the incident.
"We're proud of him and of all the support of everybody," Kelly Dudley, Michael's mother.
Kelly Dudley, her husband son and daughter all attended Friday's car wash. They've been by Michael's side since he was admitted to the hospital. His mother will never forget the day she found out her son had been shot.
"I got a message from my husband and I knew. I knew it was Michael. I don't know why but I knew it was Michael but I knew it was his character because he was raised that way. We always help people," she said.
His family is thankful for all the support they've received from the community. The money raised is much needed.
"It feels good because it can cover our insurance," said Brooke Dudley, Michael's sister.
"Money isn't everything because obviously we don't have it all the time but it does relieve a lot of stress for future things that we need to get, medical bills you know anything that helps," Kelly said.
Dudley, a former football player for Thomas Dale High School, is almost back to his normal self as he recovers at the hospital. His mother is not surprised by the outpouring of support they've received from those who knew him.
"He knows he has a lot of friends and support behind him and that's what keeps him going," said Kelly.
Last night, a close friend of Dudley's shared details about the moments leading up to the deadly shooting. Almost 24 hours after the double shooting that nearly took his friend's life, Joshua Tuggle returns to Pietro's Pizza to share a story he won't soon forget.
"I heard the shot and then I looked back and saw my friend get shot, and he fell to the ground," said Tuggle.
Tuggle says he and Dudley just finished dinner when their nightmare began.
"We were walking out and we saw this woman running toward us. She was kind of dazed already. She was holding her head. She was like, 'Call the police. This man hit me with something'," said Tuggle.
Tuggle says Dudley confronted suspect Richard Parker after he saw the man throw his wife, Cindy, against the restaurant window.
"The next thing I know he pulls for a gun. I told Michael to run. I was like, 'We got to go. Run'," said Tuggle.
Cindy Parker was killed. Her husband is in jail charged with second degree murder and malicious wounding. We stopped by the couple's home on Scrimshaw Drive, but a family friend told us relatives were in shock and not ready to make a statement. Funeral arrangements for Cindy Parker have not been made yet.