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Burien teen blinded in SR 509 shooting bonds with wounded officer

A Burien boy who was blinded by gunfire on SR 509 met with a Mount Vernon officer who also lost his eyesight to gun violence.

BURIEN, Wash. — A Burien boy blinded by a bullet connected with a police officer who was also blinded by gunfire. 

Andy Gonzalez, age 14, was riding with his family on SR 509 last year when a bullet pierce their vehicle and struck him in the head, severely damaging his vision. 

Retired Mount Vernon Officer Mike McClaughry was shot during a standoff in 2016 and lost his eyesight. 

When the teenager learned about McClaughry's story, he wanted to meet him. That happened Monday in Burien. 

“I was feeling bad that it happened to him,” Andy said during the meeting at the Washington Criminal Justice Training Center. 

McClaughry hugged Andy and gave him a set of coins, which were handed down to McClaughry by his mom.

“It helps me to remember the most important people in my life,” McClaughry told Andy. “Who are the most important people in your life?”

“My family,” Andy said.

“That's the same way for me, my mom and dad,” McClaughry said.

Police hope their story helps bring attention to a string of shootings along SR 509, including the one that injured Andy. A task force is still seeking tips as investigators search for possible suspects.

RELATED: Police seek information on string of SR 509 shootings, including one that left teen blind

“It keeps the tips going, it keeps people thinking about it, it doesn’t let anybody forget, and that’s important,” McClaughry said.

Andy had a message for the person who shot him.

“If he was listening, I would say I forgive you, but he made my family suffer and everybody suffer,” Andy said.

Before they shared lunch, McClaughry gave his new friend some advice, "People will be more than happy to give you a hand and help you out. Your parents will steer you, but you have to be the one that wants to go, and as long as you're willing, you'll get there,” he said.

Call 425-401-7880 or email SR509shootingtip@wsp.wa.gov with any information on the SR 509 shootings.