Emotional sendoff for Kinloch firefighter released from rehab center after June shooting

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ST. LOUIS – A Kinloch firefighter who was shot at a St. Louis County Applebee’s in June walked out of a rehab facility Monday. Arlydia Bufford and her parents said it will be the long road to recovery and now her family and friends are committed to seeing her through.

Bufford’s colleagues described Bufford as a fighter and she’s proven that to be true.

“This day means a lot to me; all the support,” Bufford said.

On June 22, Bufford and two other women were shot by a gunman at an Applebee’s restaurant in St. John. One of the other victims, Kimberly Ratliff-Penton, was killed.

Police initially described Bufford’s condition as life-threatening after being shot in the head. 

The suspect, identified as 28-year-old Courtney Washington, had no connection to the victims. He was charged with first-degree murder and two other crimes. He’s being held on a $1 million cash-only bond.

The community wrapped their arms around Bufford, rooting her on and even raising almost $40,000 on a GoFundMe page to help her with medical bills. They’ve also had a boot camp and a barbeque fundraiser to support her.

“Just a long road to recovery. We could not imagine this day. This is truly a blessing after seven weeks,” said Rebecca Bufford, Arlydia’s mother. 

Bufford spent the last two months undergoing physical and speech therapy. A parade of fire departments from across Missouri joined Bufford’s family and friends in cheering her on as she left the rehab center Monday.

“We give God all the glory and all the praise and honor. He has shown himself to be faithful and true with her speedy recovery and the tremendous improvement,” said Kinloch Fire Chief Kevin Stewart. “Arlydia is definitely a miracle from God.”

Bufford said she’s looking forward to continuing the training program she started to become an EMT and return to the firehouse in Kinloch.

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