San Diego

Victim in San Diego Mass Shooting Rampage Thanks First Responders

The victim thanked the fire officials, police officers and other first responders who rushed to help him and his friends Sunday evening.

One of the victims of a San Diego mass shooting rampage thanked first responders and hospital staff Monday, saying their efforts helped save his life and the lives of his friends.

Thomas Blea, 34, was visibly emotional as he described the moments after he was shot while celebrating a friend's birthday Sunday in University City.

Blea suffered a leg injury when a man opened fire near the pool at the La Jolla Crossroads apartment complex. One victim was killed and six others were hospitalized with gunshot wounds. Another person suffered a broken bone attempting to flee. An additional victim - a security guard - was shot at but not injured. 

Blea, surrounded by friends, thanked first responders and hospital staff for getting him through the ordeal. 

"I want to give thanks to the San Diego Police Department, the fire department, and I can't remember the officer's name but he was great," Blea said. "The staff here at Scripps was great. They welcomed me, they did above and beyond, everybody’s done above and beyond." 

Blea said he still had to speak with all his friends hurt in the shooting, but was happy most were going to be okay. 

"It was a terrible experience that we went through but I'm glad that I'm alright, and I'm glad that most of my friends are alright, I still gotta visit them," he said.

The shooting victim added that the hospital went out of their way to treat him like family. 

"But again, the hospital, did above and beyond," Blea said. "I mean, I was alone at one point, and they comforted me, not just treated me like a patient, they treated (me like) more than that."

At the press conference, hospital officials and trauma surgeons said four victims were sent to Scripps La Jolla, two to Scripps Mercy and the rest to Sharp Memorial Hospital. 

The two victims sent to Scripps Mercy were suffering from life-threatening injuries when they were admitted, a trauma surgeon said.

Doctors are cautiously optimistic that they will recover after surgery and medical attention. The victims are in critical condition at this time. 

Authorities say the gunman, 49-year-old Peter Selis, was described by witnesses as calm when he held a beer in his hand and opened fire in the upscale apartment complex. 

Selis called his ex-girlfriend after the shooting began and wanted her to hear the rampage, San Diego's police chief said Monday. 

Chief Shelley Zimmerman said Selis was despondent over a recent breakup with a girlfriend.

Moments before officer arrived, Selis, "took out a cell phone and he called his ex-girlfriend,” Zimmerman said. “Selis told his ex-girlfriend that he had just shot two people and that police had arrived on the scene.”

Zimmerman said Selis stayed on the phone with his ex-girlfriend as the shooting continued.

“It was apparent that Selis wanted his ex-girlfriend to listen in as he carried out his rampage,” she said.

The victims just happened to be present, she added.

San Diego Fire-Rescue Chief Brian Fennessey said one of the security guards at the apartment complex helped rescue three victims, using a motorized cart to transport them to where ambulances and first responders were waiting to come into the complex. 

Blea said he wanted to thank that security guard in person, as well as a police officer who helped him and his friends. 

"That guy saved us a lot of time, getting us to the fire department in a safe zone, and getting us over here," Blea said of the security guard. "Everybody was great, it was a team effort all around, from the police department, one of the officers was with us the whole time, he was amazing, I don’t remember his name, but that guy was amazing."

Demetrius Griffin, Blea's friend, was also present at the shooting. He said the families of the victims have setting up a combined GoFundMe for all victims and their medical expenses. To donate, click here. 

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