ToquiNotes: On 3rd Anniversary of Shooting, Jimmy Malfregeot Talks Surgeries, Passing, Family and More

By Jeff Toquinto on September 16, 2023 from ToquiNotes via

It had been a good day.
Earlier, at 7 a.m. to be exact on Sept. 13, 2020, Jimmy Malfregeot had met up with friends Martin Howe and Bryan Hogue for a little golf. The group got in 18 holes that morning at Clarksburg Country Club before heading to the clubhouse. By 11:30, Malfregeot was enjoying a post-round Corona, but had to leave earlier than he wanted to cut grass.
Even when he got that chore out of the way, Malfregeot was enjoying his time at his East Main Street home in Clarksburg. In fact, he was enjoying time on his front porch with a cigar. In short order, the ritual of picking up his wife Brenda who would be picking up her mother – Jimmy’s mother-in-law – for a 7 p.m. Sunday dinner was in order.
“It was a good evening, and I was relaxed and sitting at the breakfast room table getting ready to watch 60 minutes,” said Malfregeot, at the time a member of Clarksburg City Council and today the city’s mayor. “There was nothing unusual about the day.”
Things were about to change. They were about to change in ways no one could have imagined – from family and friends to anyone who would happen to hear or see what was about to unfold.
In minutes, the peace of a Sunday in Clarksburg was shattered by a shooting, a kidnapping, and a high-speed chase. Jimmy Malfregeot would die three times before being brought back. He would have four surgeries in two hospitals in two states.
The fallout would not end on this Sunday, but would continue for months, and mentally, even to this day as Malfregeot reached the third anniversary this past Wednesday of what transpired that fateful day.
“I got up to tell Brenda something and raised the kitchen window and saw a guy walking down the driveway with a gun in his hand. I yelled at him, but he didn’t look up,” said Malfregeot.
Malfregeot reacted quickly. He ran through his house, grabbed a gun he had stored in the foyer and put a shell in the chamber and headed outside where he saw Brenda and his mother-in-law in the vehicle.
“I didn’t see him. He was already in the car by Brenda’s seat. Eventually, I figured out he was in the car,” said Malfregeot.
The mental revelation, sadly, was not the only thing to hit him at that moment. The next thing he saw in a microsecond put him on a path that nearly took his life.
“I remember seeing the back driver’s side window shatter and it hit me,” said Malfregeot.
What hit him was a bullet from a 22 Magnum. There was an immediate burning sensation, but the adrenaline of the situation kept the pain barricaded behind the emotion of the moment.
“The shot backed me up and my first thought was I’m going to get shot again, but I tried to get up to the driver’s side of the car as it was pulling out of the driveway,” said Malfregeot. “I went to a little walkway as they were leaving and managed to make it to the bottom of my steps, raised the gun, and fired off a warning shot. I went up the steps and collapsed.”
In seconds, Clarksburg Police were there. It was not a matter of luck, but a case where the man who had just shot Malfregeot, Antonio Dejesus, then 33, of Wilmington, Delaware, was already being sought for a disturbance at the Hardee’s Restaurant. Dejesus leaving the scene at Hardee’s led him directly to Malfregeot’s house nearby and the scenario that would unfold.
The Clarksburg officer, who happened to be the only one that carried chemical patches for wounds, according to Malfregeot, raised Jimmy’s shirt and put the patch on. He then proceeded to try and get as much information as he could to help with finding Dejesus.
“He asked me three times and I can remember getting mad that he kept asking. I realized later he was trying to keep me awake,” said Malfregeot.
By now, the adrenaline was replaced with pain. He was bleeding through his white golf shirt. He was on his side and could not move onto his back. An ambulance was there in minutes, but weather issues ruled out a needed medical flight. By now, the pain was unbearable.
“One of my neighbor’s, Franny Lopez, was across the street at the time when they flipped me. I let out a blood curdling scream he said that brought a tear to his eye,” said Malfregeot.
Pain was about to become Malfregeot’s partner for weeks. Although he knew he was hurt, he did not know how bad it was.
He would find out later the bullet nicked his liver, took out his gall bladder and splattered his duodenum. The damage was extensive as he was rushed to J.W. Ruby Memorial’s trauma center in Morgantown as a fireman drove the ambulance, an EMT was in the back as a paramedic worked on Malfregeot.
“We were on the interstate, and I passed. I crossed over. All I can remember was standing a wheat field and a voice said, ‘not yet.’ I shot up in the ambulance and freaked out the paramedic,” Malfregeot said.
Malfregeot began to pray out loud as the paramedic told the driver to gun it to Morgantown. They knew, and Malfregeot knew too, he was in trouble.
“I remember thinking my wife and her mother don’t know if I’m alive. I’m also thinking I don’t know where they are and being in so much pain at the same time,” he said. “I knew we were getting close to the hospital because they told me we just passed the (WVU) Coliseum.”
Malfregeot entered the emergency room and its trauma center. He tried to raise his head amidst a sea of operating lights and a dozen gloved and gowned medical professionals waiting for him. The nurse told him to put his head down and then he remembered what he told the nurse.
“I told the nurse I had brand new golf shorts on and please don’t cut them off. She looked at me and told me to count from 0 to 10,” he said as he was being put under. “I don’t remember anything from that point.”
Malfregeot was in surgery for eight hours. He would learn later he passed on the table again, but this time there was no vision, no voice. During those eight hours, the situation involving Dejesus, his wife, and mother-in-law had concluded.
As Malfregeot and doctors battled to stay alive, the carjacking of his wife and mother-in-law had been resolved. Dejesus had forced Brenda Malfregeot to drive through Clarksburg while lying between the seats and with a gun behind her head telling her to go faster.
Eventually, they headed on Pike Street toward Adamston and, more than once, Dejesus threatened to kill his wife, Malfregeot said. Four miles later, just past Edgewood, Dejesus pushed Brenda Malfregeot and her then 88-year-old mother out of a moving vehicle.
Incredibly, neither were seriously injured. Perhaps more amazing was that Dejesus, turning around, could have run them over and, for reasons he only knows, did not.
Brenda Malfregeot flagged down a car and got her and her mother to safety. She could not get near her own home when she arrived due to it being an active crime scene. Eventually, neighbor Darrin Webster told her to get with him and, eventually, found their way to Ruby Memorial where Jimmy Malfregeot’s long battle was still in its early stages.
“Brenda got there and even though COVID was at its peak, they let her stay. I think it was because they didn’t think I was going to make it,” said Malfregeot.
By Monday, family members had arrived.
“Brenda wasn’t allowed back until noon, and they tried to call her to let her know I was having another surgery. Her cell phone was in the car that was carjacked so she didn’t have it,” said Malfregeot. “They went in to secure the duodenum and I learned I died again on the table.”
Brenda returned to find out her husband was back in surgery. The surgeon informed her that things were “touch and go.” Although the prognosis was not what anyone wants to hear about a loved one, it was leaps and bounds better than having to hear that her spouse had passed.
Eventually, Malfregeot would end up in an intensive ICU unit. He would be there approximately five days, before going into a step-down unit in critical condition.
“I felt like they had control of the situation over the next few days, but I remember, Sept. 22, my son Julian’s birthday, was a bad day. I even told Brenda I did not want them to see me in such bad shape,” he said.
That afternoon, at 3 p.m., a trauma surgeon came in with bad news. She told Malfregeot that he was “dying on the inside” and that emergency surgery – his third – was needed. The worst part was the surgeon informed Malfregeot he should tell his family goodbye.
“The odd thing was I passed away three times already and during those previous nine days I was ready to give up twice and Brenda pulled me back by telling me I couldn’t leave her or the boys,” Malfregeot said. “This day, the 22nd, I was ready and was calm about it even though my son told me I could not die on his birthday.”
Malfregeot began bidding his farewells in person, by phone, via facetime. He prayed with his wife. He told his boys to shepherd their mother. Malfregeot went as far as to tell his family the funeral suit he wanted to wear, a signature bow tie, and that Amos Carvelli Funeral Home would handle everything.
“I said my farewell and then a lot of doctors came into the room, and I asked them if anyone drove a five-speed and they all kind of looked at me. I told them I have a 2005 Porsche Boxster if anyone wanted to buy it,” he said. “I was that calm.”
Malfregeot had given up hope. His family did not. They all gathered, including siblings and more, in a waiting room that was not used to any gatherings since COVID.
“I found out a nurse came in and said they weren’t allowed to be there, and they told her they weren’t going anywhere. They stayed and the nurse ended up asking them if they needed anything,” he said. “I think maybe the nurse figured, like I did, that I was going to die during surgery.”
Six hours later, Malfregeot was out of surgery. One of the complications was dehydration, he said. Shortly after that, they were able to secure a room at the Cleveland Clinic. 
“When I got there, unequivocally, those doctors at WVU saved my life … Getting dehydrated after what I was going through seemed like a lack of communication, so we opted to go to Cleveland Clinic,” said Malfregeot.
He was at Ruby Memorial for 19 days. He would be at Cleveland Clinic for the same number of days.
It was in Cleveland where doctors began removing many of the tubes that had kept him alive. Eventually, he would have seven removed – one at a time.
As the healing progressed, he did something he had not done in the first 24 days of his care. He ate solid food – fish and mashed potatoes and drank a ginger ale that he was craving. For the first time, Malfregeot said he felt as if he was getting close to being out of the woods.
And he was also beginning to process how many people supported him and his family. It was, he said, “overwhelming in ways hard to describe.” Martin Howe and his wife Valerie had created a “Bow Ties for Jimmy” for the Council member who wears them and there were more than a hundred who participated. There was a prayer vigil organized by Bryan Payne at Clarksburg City Hall on Sept. 19. There were others that helped as well.
One of those things involved gift cards. Malfregeot had a stack of gift cards his wife brought with her to Cleveland to prove it.
“I’m thinking about 100 of them, including some Starbucks cards. My wife would stop at a Starbucks shop in the lobby and bring the staff coffee,” said Malfregeot smiling at the kindness she was able to provide through the kindness of others. “There was one nurse, Lisa, who was so particularly attentive. She made me get out of bed and walk; she pushed me when I needed pushed.”
Eventually, Lisa would insist that Malfregeot go to the bathroom on his own. It was grueling but needed. The ballet between recovery, pain and endurance Lisa insisted on took another step on Oct. 22.
“She was pushing me and made sure I was able to go to the bathroom by myself. I came back and told her I was exhausted, and she told me I needed to get up and walk the hall,” said Malfregeot. “She knew I was going home and wanted to make sure I was ready.”
At this time, Malfregeot still had a feeding tube, but he was eating regularly. That day he put down a cheeseburger, French fries, and another ginger ale. It was his last meal before going home.
He left that day with two tubes still in him – the main one being a feeding tube for night feeding. He would return in a week for a follow up visit after 19 days at the Cleveland Clinic. Upon return, the final two tubes were removed in quick – and painful – fashion.
Although the worst was behind him, there would be one more complication. As time passed, Malfregeot’s stomach became enlarged, and he was sent back to Cleveland Clinic where he met with “the best hernia doctor in the country.” The doctor was pretty sure it would be an hour and a half surgery and was told the hernias were the result of all the surgeries.
“That quick surgery ended up lasting six hours. I had eight hernias … the doctor told me it was a mess, but they got it taken care of,” said Malfregeot. “He told me he felt good everything was in good order even with the bullet still lodged in me near my spine. It’s going to be there for as long as I’m here.”
 Malfregeot hopes the person that put the bullet there, Dejesus, remains in jail for as long as both of them are on this earth.
Harrison County Circuit Judge Thomas A. Bedell made it likely that such is the case. The sentencing in May of 2022 included two 30-year sentences on kidnapping, 10 years for use of the firearm, and an additional 3-5 years for unlawful assault on Malfregeot. Parole at the time of the sentencing is still 17 years away in 2040.
“They’re appealing so we still don’t have stuff from that night. I still don’t have my gun because it’s evidence,” said Malfregeot. “Of course, I want him in jail and think he needs to be there. I need that for us to be able to get on with our lives because I’m feeling pretty good again.”
Three years later, the surgeon who said everything was in good order was correct. Malfregeot is healthy again. He’s working at Pete Dye Golf Club and is fulfilling what he said is the dream of being the mayor of the City of Clarksburg.
“Physically I’m back and big part of that is my faith and my family pulling me through,” said Malfregeot. Mentally it’s a challenge sometimes. It will always be a mental challenge, but I battle that because I’ve got plenty of reasons to keep going.”
Indeed, he does. He’s slammed the door on death’s face three times. And he has already been told “not yet.” For Jimmy Malfregeot, he has it on the highest of authorities, there is still work to do.
Editor's Note: Top photo shows Jimmy Malfregeot early in his fight for his life at Ruby Memorial Hospital. Second photo shows Clarksburg Police surrounding Malfregeot's house shortly after the shooting, while the third photo shows Bridgeport Detective Gary Weaver, far right, looking over the crime scene and the Malfregeot's vehicle that was carjacked by Antonio Dejesus. In the third photo, Clarksburg Police Chief Mark Kiddy, left, and now retired Deputy Chief Randy Hartley, take Dejesus into custody at the Blackbear Express just off Saltwell Road in Bridgeport. Photos two through four are by Ben Queen of Ben Queen Photography. In the fifth photo, Malfregeot is getting ready to be transported to Cleveland Clinic by Monongalia County EMS and in the sixth one he is shown in his spacious private room in Cleveland. In the seventh image, Malfregeot is seen as he is being discharged from the Cleveland Clinic. In the eighth picture, Malfregeot and his wife Brenda are shown post-shooting enjoying an evening on the town. Bottom photo, courtesy of the City of Clarksburg, shows Malfregeot speaking at the start of this year's Italian Heritage Festival in downtown Clarksburg. All photos not identified are courtesy of Jimmy Malfregeot.

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