San Diego

Security Guard Injured in 2001 Santana High Shooting Recounts Tragedy

A security guard who was injured in a shooting at Santana High School in 2001 is reflecting on that fateful day 16 years ago.

Peter Ruiz Jr. was shot three times in the back at close range that day. He didn't just survive it, he went on to accomplish things he'd never dreamed of back then.

Now, he’s sharing a message of hope.

With just three weeks on the job, the then 23-year-old charged into the school bathroom where he heard shots fired.

"When I went in I just saw bullet casing on the floor two kids in the bathroom," Peter said.

Unbeknownst to him, the gunman, 15-year-old Charles Andrew Williams, was hiding in a stall reloading his dad's .22 caliber revolver.

When Peter exited to get help, Williams followed and fired several times at him.

"My body just went into shock and my legs went out and I was just lying there out in the open," he said.

To this day, one of the three bullets that hit him remains lodged in his lower back. It’s a painful reminder.

For the next 12 months after the shooting, it was the pain in his heart that he ignored. At the 1-year memorial, all those feelings surfaced.

"Those flowers could have been for me. It could have been my photo there or a candle lit for me,” he said.

He survived the shooting, but to live beyond that took greater courage.

"Own it and say 'Yes, I was there. This is my contribution. What can I do to better myself at this point?'" Peter said.

Now he's a husband, father to two children, Security Supervisor at Steel Canyon High School and head basketball coach.

"I waited 'til my son was old enough to tell him what happened. I coach sports at the same time we make sure we open up to everybody and I share my story," Peter said.

Sixteen years later, no secrets, acceptance, and one more thing helped Peter see beyond this tragedy.

“I realized at the end of the day I had better things to look for," he said.

In all, two students were killed, 13 people injured.

Charles Andrew Williams was sentenced to life in prison.

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