Mother prays 4-year-old son will walk again after he was shot during drive-by shooting

Romeo and his siblings were enjoying a family day together with the shooting broke out

A 4-year-old boy is recovering after surviving a drive-by shooting last weekend. His mother says he has a long road of recovery ahead of him.

SAN ANTONIO – A 4-year-old boy in San Antonio is fighting to walk again after he was shot in the back during a drive-by shooting on the Southeast Side. His mother, fighting to be his voice against gun violence, is by his side.

Romeo Aguilar is an energetic boy who is described as having a larger-than-life personality. His family said he is a character.

“He’s so kind,” said Rosella Aguilar, his mother. “He is so generous. He is just so precious.”

This time last year, Romeo was trick-or-treating as Spiderman.

“Tell me why he wanted to be Spiderman again! I said, ‘Oh Lord,’” his mother laughed. “I said, ‘so you are going to be my Spiderman?’ and he said, ‘No mom, I am going to be your superhero.’ He sure was right about that. He is my superhero.”

On Sunday, Romeo used all of his strength to survive what his family would describe as a nightmare.

“We were having a family day and we went to the Day of the Dead Festival,” Aguilar said. “The kids were having so much fun but then we decided to go have a picnic in the park. We stopped by a Valero and I got some snacks because that is what they all wanted and we got to the park. Then one of my twins said he had to use the bathroom so I decided for us to go take a break from the park.”

She said that is when she, Romeo, her 3-year-old twins and her 13-year-old daughter went to her grandfather’s house on Woodville Drive.

“I remember seeing two white cars in front of his house and I didn’t think anything of it,” she said. “I went around to open my daughter’s door because it had a child lock on it. Romeo was in the third row and one of my twins was still buckled in a seatbelt.”

Aguilar said everything happened so fast.

“I heard a noise but wasn’t paying too much attention to it,” she said. “Then you just hear like, ‘pow pow pow pow pow pow,’ like real fast and the car skirted away. I scream, ‘My babies! My babies!’ I looked and my twin was still sitting in his car seat looking at me stunned like, ‘What just happened mommy?’ Then Romeo just collapsed on the floor.”

She said the family realized he had blood on his shirt.

“They told me that it was glass and I screamed to bring him inside,” Aguilar said. “They took his shirt off and he had a bullet hole in his back and he was gushing blood,” she wept.

San Antonio police eventually arrived on scene. Romeo was rushed to University Hospital while Aguilar had to go to the police station to make a statement.

“I wanted to be with my baby,” she cried. “Being with him was more important than making a statement! I was at the police station for about an hour not knowing what was going on with my baby. Then the police officer asked if I had someone that could take me to the hospital. I thought they would be able to take me but instead, they took me back to the scene instead and I had to get a ride to the hospital.”

When Aguilar arrived at the hospital, that is when the doctors broke the devastating news to her.

“They told me a bullet pierced his spine and that he would never be able to walk again,” she wept. “I fell down! How can you tell me my baby is not going to walk again? He loves football. He loves to run. He loves to ride his dirt bike. He plays with his brothers. I just couldn’t understand.”

She said she had an option of going through with a rare procedure that she ultimately decided to sign off on.

“They said, ‘Well, I can’t guarantee you this will help your baby but it is worth a shot.’ I asked the doctor, ‘If this was your son, what would you do?’ We did it.”

She said the surgery went well and lasted about three hours. Romeo still has a bullet left inside of him.

On Saturday, Aguilar said her prayers were answered the same day Romeo’s family held a prayer vigil in his honor.

“He said, ‘Look, mom, I can move my leg!’ I said, ‘Stop playing baby!’ But I looked and he was moving his leg,” she said as she wept tears of joy. “I said, ‘Ok God! I know you are hearing me! I know you are hearing me! I know it is not like he got up and walked but it is something right?”

Seeing that, Aguilar said she knows her son’s future is still bright.

“God has the last say,” she said. “I know he has plans for my baby. I know this because I don’t have to bury my baby. I still can tell him I love him. I can wake up to his face. I still can wake up to him, telling me to kiss me. Even if he doesn’t walk again and has to stay in a wheelchair, we are going to push that wheelchair until the wheels fall off!”

Despite the traumatic experience, Romeo is still able to smile and keep his personality.

“He is already telling the nurses he is ready for his wheelchair now,” she laughed. “They can’t stop talking about how precious he is.”

Romeo is still in the ICU and will have to go through a long recovery process.

While the family continues to pray for a speedy recovery, they are also praying for justice.

“I am not going to sleep until they are behind bars,” Aguilar said. “This momma right here is going to go to war for anyone of her babies.”

At this time, police have not released any more information about this shooting and are still searching for the suspect.

If you have any information, you are urged to call authorities.

In the meantime, Romeo’s family is raising funds to afford medical expenses.

If you would like to see how you can help, you can contact jaylynnamber5@icloud.com.


About the Authors:

Japhanie Gray is a reporter with KSAT12 News.

Adam Barraza is a photojournalist at KSAT 12 and an El Paso native. He interned at KVIA, the local ABC affiliate, while still in high school. He then moved to San Antonio and, after earning a degree from San Antonio College and the University of the Incarnate Word, started working in news. He’s also a diehard Dodgers fan and an avid sneakerhead.