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thedrifter
07-28-08, 09:30 AM
Local man who served with Marines in Iraq and Afghanistan gets shot, nearly killed during holdup at gas station in Akron
Danger close to home

Victim says military training kept him calm after shooting

By Jim Carney
Beacon Journal staff writer

Published on Monday, Jul 28, 2008

He never thought he would be shot in his hometown.

Maybe in Iraq, where he served in the Marines for seven months. Maybe in Afghanistan, where he earned a Purple Heart when a grenade explosion knocked him down a mountainside.


But not in Akron. Not on his way to work.

But here it was — 5:30 in the morning at a Circle K gas station on Arlington, and he was looking down at a smoking hole in his stomach.

And at all the blood.

''I never figured I would get shot in the States,'' he said.

His first name is Richard. He doesn't want his last name made public because he doesn't want to put his family in any danger.

He is 24 and he grew up in Akron wanting to be a Marine. He joined the Marine ROTC program at East High School and went off to boot camp after graduating in 2002.

In the end, it was the Marine training that kept him calm after he was shot during the robbery on June 13.

''I didn't panic,'' Richard said last week as he sat in the apartment he shares with his fiancee and their 2-year-old daughter and talked about the attack. ''My military training kicked in.''

He was on the way to
his job at the Akron company Sharon Stairs, where he had worked only a few months. He had stopped at the Circle K gas station at 1178 S. Arlington St. to fill up his truck and buy a soda.

Richard had just gotten back in the truck. The door was open.

''Someone walked up and asked if I had change for a twenty.''

Richard told the man he didn't because he had prepaid for gas and the pop.

''At that time he says, 'Give me your s- - -.'

''I looked at him and I chuckled. I said, 'I'll be damned if I am gonna give you my s- - -.' I said, 'I've been in the Marine Corps. I went to Iraq and Afghanistan and came back,' and I said, 'You are not going to rob me.' ''

Out comes gun

Richard started the truck to turn the vehicle around so he could get his gas. That's when the man pulled out a pistol.

''The first thing that came to my mind was, I told him I was a cop.''

That wasn't true, but he thought it might intimidate the robber. Then Richard decided to get his wallet out to show the man his permit to carry a concealed weapon.

''That's when he shot me.''

Richard's fingers went numb and his arm was bleeding.

The gunman was still standing there. He put the gun to the back of Richard's ear and pulled the trigger.

Click.

The gun didn't fire.

''That's when I handed him my wallet and he took off.''

Richard lifted his shirt and saw the smoking hole and the blood. He had been shot through the left wrist, abdomen and pelvis.

He tried calling his fiancee and he called 911. He stepped out of the truck and fell to the ground.

Richard was rushed to Akron City Hospital, where he underwent surgery and was hospitalized until July 4.

He doesn't know who shot him and thinks two or three others may have been involved.

Akron police are investigating, but no arrests have been made.

Because his wallet and his identification were taken, Richard is concerned for the safety of his fiancee and daughter.

One night after he was released from the hospital, someone tried to break into the apartment while he sat in a chair in the living room.

''I have numbness in my ring finger all the way to my elbow,'' he said. ''I have pain in my abdomen from where they did the surgery. I can't sit up completely on my own. I have to have help. I have pain that goes into my pelvis.''

Close to dying

Three infections have sprung from the gunshot wound, and Richard was told by a nurse and a doctor that the bullet came close to killing him.

''It hit one artery and I was bleeding internally,'' he said. ''It went through the intestines and landed in the pelvis, but it didn't hit the artery enough to completely destroy it.''

The shooting was his second brush with death.

Richard arrived in Afghanistan in October 2003 as an infantryman. About three months later, he and his comrades were on a mountain looking for a weapons cache when a rocket-propelled grenade landed near him.

The explosion was so strong that he was knocked 20 to 30 feet down the mountain.

''I free-fell. . . . It tore all the muscles, ligaments, tendons on my back, slipped two disks, had a bulging disk and a compressed fracture in my spine.''

At a hospital in Afghanistan, he was told he would never walk again.

He proved those doctors wrong, recovered from his injuries and returned to duty at Camp Lejeune, N.C. The following year, he shipped out to Iraq for seven months.

In 2006, he was discharged from the Marines and came home to Akron.

Richard, who has two other daughters from a previous marriage, is upset by what happened but knows that ''there is nothing I can really do.''

Richard said he believes he was shot for a reason; he just doesn't know what it is.

''If it's gonna happen, it's gonna happen. I got shot for a reason and I don't know what the reason was.

''God is the only one that knows when my number is up.''
Jim Carney can be reached at 330-996-3576 or jcarney@thebeaconjournal.com.

Ellie