The San Diego man who, along with his wife, was shot in an apparent road rage incident on a La Mesa freeway Monday night shared his account of the attack with NBC 7, and a message for drivers.
The victim, who wants to be identified only as J.O., said he was driving with his wife eastbound on Interstate 8 towards State Route 125 and moved over to stay on I-8.
There was another motorist nearby.
J.O. said he did not cut off that driver but the man came up behind him, driving very fast.
"He kind of did a motion with his hand, like pretending he has a weapon. I’m looking at him, but it’s dark so maybe the weapon was there, I just didn’t see it," J.O. said.
Seconds later, he heard gunshots.
"Everything happened so fast. I’m like, is this for real? Is this happening right now?" he recounted.
J.O. pulled over to the shoulder of the freeway and asked his wife if she was OK.
"She was very nervous. She said, 'I think I got hit.' I asked her where. She said, 'My legs.' (I said,) 'Calm down, let me call 911,'" J.O. said.
He called 911 but couldn’t give his location to the dispatcher.
"I was so nervous, and it was dark. I didn’t even know where I was," he explained. "I felt like it was a bad dream, like I wanted to wake up, but unfortunately, it was real life."
J.O. drove to the next exit and found a gas station. He said that’s where he realized he, too, had been shot in his leg. His wife was screaming.
"I told her to calm down; we’re going to be OK. Help is on the way,” he said.
Law enforcement arrived within a couple of minutes.
J.O. was shot once in the leg. His wife was shot three times, once in each leg, and once in the mid-section. She is still recovering at Sharp Memorial Hospital in Kearny Mesa.
J.O said he immediately thought of his two children following the terrifying incident.
"Thank God they were not here with me that night. Most of the bullets were in the back (of the car)," he said.
He also wishes his wife had not been with him that night.
"She took most of the hits; it happened on her side. I wish I was just by myself," J.O. said.
And, looking back, he wishes he did something differently so as not to annoy the driver, too.
For anyone who finds themselves in the crosshairs of an aggressive, angry driver, J.O. offered some advice.
"You never know who you’re dealing with. You just never know. I never realized this would happen to me," J.O said. "Just get out of the way, let the guy do whatever they want to do."
J.O. is hoping someone saw something on I-8 at SR-125 Monday night that might help in the investigation. As of Thursday night, the suspect in the shooting remained at large.
"I hope he gets caught and hopefully he gets to pay the consequences," J.O. added. "You don’t just shoot someone -- you don’t have any reason to do that."
Anyone with information on this incident can call the California Highway Patrol at its non-emergency number: (800) TELL-CHP or (800) 835-5247.