Columbia Heights IHOP shooting victim, Dante Thomas, speaks out on crime

Thomas was shot inside the IHOP in Columbia Heights on March 11. (Photo: ABC7)

More than two weeks after he was shot in an alleged hate crime at the Columbia Heights IHOP, 31-year-old Dante Thomas still has a bullet inside him.

In his first interview since the shooting, he says it's a reminder of how close he came to dying on March 11.

"I could have died, but God has been good to me," Thomas said.

MORE: 27-year-old woman arrested in IHOP shooting

Thomas, who is gay, was at the IHOP at 3100 14th St. NW that morning with a group of friends when police say there was argument with another group of people at the register. Sources tell ABC7 News that the other group was yelling homophobic slurs at Thomas and his friends, who are also gay.

During the argument, Thomas was shot. The suspects then fled, but on Monday, MPD officials announced the arrest of 27-year-old LaShawn Carson in connection with the shooting.

"We were targeted because of our sexuality...because it was not hidden," Thomas said.

Thomas' shooting was one of several alleged anti-gay hate crimes in the city, none of which were related but all of which sparked a huge outcry from the LGBT community.

They showed that anger in a silent march in the days following the shooting. It was that kind of support that Thomas says helps in his recovery both physically and emotionally.

"I can't let negativity bring me down," he said.