San Diego County Sheriff’s deputies are crediting a 22-year old active-duty Marine for saving the life of a transient who was shot in front of an Albertson’s in Lemon Grove.
The shooting happened around 6:20 p.m. on Wednesday night in front of the the grocery store at 7090 Broadway. The victim, a transient man, appeared to have been shot from a passing vehicle in the parking lot, according to deputies.
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At the time of the shooting, Cpl. Giovanni Brunacini, 22, was having a cup of coffee with a friend.
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“We heard gunshots," said Brunacini, who is an infantry rifleman based at Camp Pendlton. "I had to see if someone was hurt."
Brunacini immediately ran to his truck to retrieve his medical go-bag, which was packed with supplies.
“I got down right next to him," Brunacini said. "I was like, ‘Hey, brother I’m here. I’m here to help you.' "
The victim may have been shot four times or five times. One bullet grazed his back and another another exited near his belly button. A third bullet shattered the unidentified victim’s forearm, according to Brunacini.
“I tried to stuff the wound with my combat gauze," Brunacini said. "I was telling to him, 'Hey, this is going to hurt, but it’s going to help you.' I put it on and secured it as good as I could, and I was like, 'Hey, brother, you’re good. We’re here. You don’t have to worry about anything anymore.' ”
The Marine, who was deployed to Iraq to protect the embassy compound in Baghdad, credits his four years of service and medical training for his instinctive reaction.
“I was the designated lifesaver for our squad there, so if anyone got hurt, it was going to be on me to help fix them," Brunacini said. "So I knew what I had to do there, and I knew what I had to do last night."
While Brunacini characterized the incident as "just another day for me," deputies said it was likely that the victim would have died if not for his actions.
“That’s what the police officers were saying that, you know, they were like, 'You probably saved that guy's life tonight. He probably would have bled out if nobody helped him,' " Brunacini said. "So I’m just glad I was there to do what I could."
The sheriff’s department had not provide any updates on its investigation as of Thursday afternoon.
There are at least four security cameras mounted in front of the Albertson’s store, which could possibly provide clues and help in the search for a suspect.
The suspect(s) were last seen driving away from the scene in a white sedan, according to a spokeswoman for the sheriff's department, who added that detectives were able to collect "numerous items of evidence" from the scene, including surveillance video of the shooting.
The sheriff's department is encouraging anybody with information about the shooting to contact their office at 858-974-2222.