Walter Santiago's Head Deflects Bullet Along Florida Road, 2nd Shooting There This Year


The weather forecast for Florida? Sunny, with a chance of stray bullets.

A 62-year-old grandfather was nearly killed as he drove with his granddaughter through a Tampa suburb last week. Walter Santiago says that he's lucky to be alive after a shot grazed his skull just above his left eye and ricocheted through the front window of his vehicle.

Santiago's granddaughter Jesenia, 13, was in the passenger's seat but was unharmed. She called 911 immediately when her grandfather, bleeding badly from his head wound, pulled the car over on Florida’s SR-54 road on the afternoon of Dec. 12.

"I got out of the car and just moved away from the car because if they are shooting at me I don't want them to shoot at my granddaughter," Santiago told a local TV station. "I saw something really quick brush by me and I saw the windshield is cracked and it all just happened really fast."

Santiago (pictured, with wound) was transported to a nearby St. Joseph’s Hospital, where he was released after receiving six stitches for his wound and a CT scan to make sure he had not suffered a deeper head injury.

Witnesses reported hearing three shots in quick succession, as if from an automatic weapon, just prior to when the bullet bounced off of Santiago’s head, but police say they do not believe the shooting was "intentional."

"We still would like to continue with our investigation and find out who did shoot," said Doug Tobin of the Pasco County Sheriff's Department.

After the bullet hit the windshield, it fell to the floorboard of the car where investigators recovered it.

Santiago agrees with investigators that whoever shot him did so accidentally, and that he was not targeted by the shooter.

"Just someone being stupid," Santiago said. "If you want to kill someone, you'd get a lot closer. I don't think careless is the word. Just stupid and ignorant. I certainly hope they catch somebody. If he continues doing it, he's certainly going to wind up killing somebody."

Accidental or not, the shooting is the second along the same road this year. Former Marine William Wright was driving along SR-54 in June accompanied by his 10-year-old daughter when a shot rang out.

"I immediately heard that sound hitting the metal and I knew what it was from hearing that sound before when I was deployed as a Marine," he explained.

Sheriff's investigators say they have found no connection between the two incidents. But the former Marine is skeptical.

"I think that there is someone intentionally driving around up and down State Road 54 shooting at people randomly," Wright said.

Sources: Yahoo! News, ABC Action News


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