Metro-East News

His son was shot and paralyzed in 2015. He’s still fighting for justice.

Travis Czapla
Travis Czapla

It’s been two years since Travis Czapla was shot and paralyzed outside of his home in Cahokia.

No charges have been filed, and police say the case is at a dead end.

But the 29-year-old former Cahokia man’s father isn’t giving up.

“People who know me don’t understand it,” said Ted Czapla, Travis’ father. “I got motivated by my son getting hurt. I’m not quitting on this...I’m not going to quit with Travis.”

Travis Czapla, who now lives in Florissant, Mo., was shot June 23, 2015, just before midnight. His dad thinks he was shot as a part of a long fight with two other people. He thinks he knows who did it, but the suspect was cleared by police.

He has theories about what happened, of course, but none that police have proved.

Cahokia Lt. Damen Pipkens said police have exhausted every possible lead, and are just waiting on new information to come in. Investigators are fairly comfortable that the people who are possibly responsible for shooting Travis Czapla are already incarcerated for other crimes, Pipkens said.

With no witnesses, police had to start their investigation from ground zero, making it difficult to tell exactly what happened and who was to blame. Police only listed one suspect in the initial report, a man named “pooh-bear.”

For now, the case remains cold, at least until a new tidbit of information comes in.

Travis Czapla has become more cautious and scared than he used to be, his father said. He’s in a wheelchair, paralyzed from the waist down. The shooting damaged many of his internal organs, his father said, “drastically altering” his and his young son’s future. Travis Czapla declined to speak to the BND.

“Sometimes I think injured persons are worse than the ones who are killed,” Ted Czapla said. “It continues to eat at a family’s happiness.”

Czapla has continued to hang posters around his neighborhood, pleading for information about who shot his son.

He said he’s not going to give up until he knows who’s responsible.

“There is no good reason for people to be afraid and hide in their homes; to listen to gunshots nightly,” Czapla wrote on one of the posters he hung up in 2016, advertising a candlelight vigil he held for Travis. “This has to change so that the citizens of Cahokia are informed that they are living in a war zone and can be alert and defend themselves and their neighbors.”