Possessed’s Jeff Becerra Walks for First Time in Over 30 Years
Jeff Becerra, lead singer of pioneering death metal band Possessed, has walked for the first time since being paralyzed from the chest down in a 1989 shooting incident.
Becerra uploaded a video of the incredible feat to Possessed’s TikTok and Instagram on Saturday. The singer explained that he was able to walk "with the help of robotic legs." He also received an encouraging reply from Testament and former Slayer guitarist Gary Holt, who appropriately commented several "devil horns" emoji.
You can watch the video below.
In 1989, Becerra was robbed at gunpoint by two assailants and shot twice, paralyzing him from the chest down. He detailed the incident in a 2019 interview with the Underground Metal Gamer (via Blabbermouth).
"I've been in a wheelchair longer than I've been walking," Becerra said. "It's my normal. It wasn't so much of an accident — I got shot by two different guns in a robbery. I was doing concrete construction. I worked something like 13 hours that day. I stopped to get a pack of Camels [cigarettes] and I guess I flashed a hundred [dollar bill] and on the way out, two guys in hoods, little ninja guys came running up with guns: 'Give me all of your fucking money.'
"I kind of resisted; I should have just given them the money, but I was fucked, I was cornered," he continued. "It's not the first time I had a gun pointed at me and I knew they meant business. We scuffled, there was no way out of it and I ended up getting shot a couple of times. The first guy pushed a 9-millimeter to my chest [points to bullet hole]. It broke through the ribs and shattered the lungs and stuck on in the spine, so I still have a 9-millimeter slug stuck on the vertebrate T3. I think the second guy was covering me from about 15 feet away, so there was nowhere to run. It was more like a knee-jerk reaction because the first shot was 'pow!' and right after, 'pow!'"
Following the shooting, Becerra entered a five-year period of intense drug and alcohol abuse before turning his life around and pursuing new endeavors. He earned a college degree, got married, had children and later got divorced, at which point he decided to reunite Possessed. The singer assembled a new backing band and brought Possessed back to the stage in 2007 after a 16-year absence. The group has toured regularly since then, with Becerra performing in a wheelchair.
In 2019, Possessed also released their third album, Revelations of Oblivion. It came more than 30 years after their first two LPs, 1985’s Seven Churches and 1986’s Beyond the Gates, the former of which is considered by many to be the first-ever death metal album.
Congrats to Becerra on the incredible achievement!