SAN ANTONIO – When Ernest Diaz bedded down for the night in the doorway of a business in a Southeast Side strip mall, he had no idea he was in the danger zone.
That, however, is exactly where he found himself around 1 a.m. August 26.
“Waking up to hear the gunshot and realizing that it was me who got hit, and then the pain,” he said, discussing the few details he recalls from that morning.
San Antonio police said Diaz was the victim of an unprovoked and seemingly random crime.
Police pieced together what happened by reviewing surveillance video from the 99 Cents Only store located in the 1800 block of South W.W. White Road.
Officers at the scene said the cameras captured someone in a truck circling the parking lot a few times before stopping in front of Diaz.
They said a man then got out, walked up to Diaz and shot him as he slept, then left him for dead.
It would be about three hours before store employees arrived and found him.
“I tried telling them that I’d been shot because I could hear them asking each other what’s going on,” Diaz said. “I know I prayed to God and I passed out, like, literally after I said, ‘Amen.’"
His family, meanwhile, had no idea where he was.
Diaz said he had left home days prior to that due to mental problems.
After spending more than a week in a hospital and undergoing more than a dozen surgeries, he was released.
His family then learned what happened when he suddenly showed up at their Southeast Side apartment.
“I opened the door and go, ‘What.’ He (said), ‘I got shot.’"And I go, ‘What!’," said Olivia Lejia, his girlfriend.
Lejia said she had heard about the shooting but never imagined Diaz was the victim.
His mother, who was in Mexico at the time, rushed back to San Antonio to be by his side.
“A mother would never imagine her kids getting shot, especially while they’re asleep,” said Elaine Cruz, Diaz’s mother. “I say (the shooter) wasn’t a man. That was a punk.”
Police still don’t know who that person was.
Although they have surveillance video of the attack, they declined a request by KSAT 12 News to share the images.
A spokeswoman said the case is still under investigation.
Diaz is on the road to recovery but still has a long way to go.
He said the bullet that tore through his back damaged half his stomach, small intestines, gall bladder, liver and lungs.
“I’ve got to give God thanks for sure, yeah,” Diaz said, about his survival.
His biggest challenge, though, may be finding a way to pay for all the medical bills because his family says he has no insurance.
Anyone with information about the shooting is asked to call the San Antonio Police Department or Crime Stoppers at 210-224-STOP (7867).
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