San Antonio – The survivor of a fatal triple shooting is sharing his near-death experience and a strong message for the alleged shooter.
The victim, 28-year-old Joe Buch, is an elevator operator and loves working on his truck. On Wednesday, Aug. 4, he was picking up a truck part from his friend’s shop when his life changed forever.
“I don’t really remember everything that happened,” Buch said. “All I know is that I was a bystander who was leaving at the time of the shooting.”
Buch said his close friends, Sareena Bain and Jonathan Fann, were also bystanders when the shooting broke out.
Bexar County Sheriff’s Office deputies say a domestic dispute escalated to the fatal shooting.
Fernando Rojas was arrested after he fled to Las Vegas, officials say.
“I stared him in his eyes when he did it,” Buch said. “He shot an unarmed man, and he knew it because I told him that I was unarmed. I looked him in his eyes when he pulled the trigger on me. He didn’t think twice. He was there to kill everyone, I believe. What went through my head is that ‘I’m dead.’”
Buck was shot twice in the head before he went down. He was the first to get shot. Bain and Fann were also shot but died from their injuries.
“That is a hard thing, realizing I was supposed to be in the same spot as well,” Buch said. “But I feel love for all of the families involved. I think this was a monster. They didn’t deserve this. I didn’t deserve this.”
Buch was conscious enough to dial 911 as he held himself up against a fence post, but his eyes had been detached from their ducts. He was airlifted to the hospital, where he had to go through reconstructive surgery.
“They had to peel my face down and build everything back up with steel because it shattered my entire face,” Buch said. “My nose is constantly leaking blood, and I have a hard time breathing. I can’t feel none of my teeth, and I can barely open my mouth, so it is hard to eat.”
Buch also lost his hearing in one of his ears, and he lost 43% of his vision.
He says he has post-traumatic stress disorder.
“I have only been able to sleep one to two hours a night,” he said. “I feel a bullet go through my head every day.”
Buch said he is thankful to his family and his fiancé for taking good care of him since he needs help moving around. He said his children are what inspired him to keep fighting.
“I think the Lord played a good role in this,” Buch said, speaking about his survival. “I think my kids are definitely a reason for me living. I am not done on this Earth. There is a reason I am still here, and I think my kids are definitely a part of it.”
Buch even joked about his beard having to be shaved for surgery.
“My beard was gladiator style,” he said with a laugh. “We’ll call it Viking level. But I am definitely looking forward to getting it back.”
Buch said in honor of Bain and Fann, he will live his life to the fullest to keep their memory alive.
“I came out thinking, ‘I am alive, and I am going to show the best me forward at all times,’” Buch said. “So I am going to joke, and I am going to play. I got pain and all of that, but I don’t need a ‘poor me’ because the best I need is the best attitudes around me.”
He had this to say to Rojas, who is now in the Bexar County Jail on two counts of felony murder.
“I don’t have hate for anybody,” Buch said. “I do hope Fernando Rojas is blessed in the justice system and that he is touched by an angel. You don’t get no praise in what you did. And If I get to see you again, whether it is at your sentencing or your execution, I am going to smile at you.”