It’s been nearly six months since five people were randomly shot, one fatally, by a man with a “ghost gun” in the Gaslamp District.
Hotel valet Justice Boldin was killed in the attack.
Half a year later, on the same day San Diego County voted to ban untraceable ghost guns, two of the survivors visited San Diego from New Jersey to get closure and share how their lives have changed, for the better.
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Check out their conversation with NBC 7’s Dana Griffin:
Dana: How does it feel to kind of be back here for the first time?
Alex: Kind of surreal. Definitely some tragic memories, definitely a little bit of trauma, but other than, that I’m just really thankful for the situation. It could’ve been a lot worse, and, obviously thankful for Shai and Dvir to be there, (pointing) at that point over there, to make sure that we were ok, make sure my brother vinny was ok as well.
Dana: I thought it was interesting, you were sharing that a slice of pizza may have saved you a little bit?
Alex: Yeah, crazy. I remember having a slice of pizza like this (Mimics holding a slice) and then it just -- with the angle that it went, I’m not sure, obviously, but being so close to your heart, it definitely could’ve been a lot worse.
Dana: Can you guys show me where you shot exactly?
Vinny: So mine was through the tricep, out the forearm. Another one through the chest.
Alex: We kind of have matching scars. I have the left arm, same situation through and through my forearm and here (arm).
Dana: What would you say is the best outcome from the shooting? Obviously very tragic, Justice Boldin was killed, but it sounds like there’s been some positive things that have come from this.
Vinny: Now, you know, I feel like we have a purpose, you know? To really start and make an impact on gun violence.
Dana: I think it’s interesting that you bring that up because the city of San Diego and the county are both moving to ban ghost guns, and part of it was the shooting you guys were involved in. How does it make you feel knowing that you’re part of a change in this city and county?
Vinny: The way that things are federally, I hope that this kind of pushes change in that front line, the laws and regulations and make the world a safer and more peaceful place.
Dana: Talk about the heroes, Dvir and Shai. I know you guys call yourselves brothers. Talk about what it’s been like, you hosted them in New Jersey, now you’re here this weekend and they’re hosting you. What has that journey been like for you guys over the last six months?
Vinny: Absolutely incredible. They’re brothers to me now, we’re family. My parents talk to them and we have like so much, I talk to them every day so they’re great people. You know, I’m absolutely so blessed they came into my life and saved me and now we can celebrate and enjoy.
Alex: You know, we crossed off New Jersey, we crossed off San Diego. Next is Israel, right?
Dana: I love it. Did the shooting kind of make you more grateful or appreciative of life?
Alex: 100% Yeah, for sure. When you’re this close from possibly dying, you know.
Vinny: There’s also, for people who experience trauma, there’s a lot of help. That’s one thing I learned throughout this process as well. For example, every town has like a gun violence victim group and I’ve actually connected with a few people that’ve been through similar experiences and it’s nice to, you know, talk to one another and have a kind of community around everything. When you experienced a traumatic event like this it always pushes you to want to be better and want to overcome, want to take every day like it’s your last. You never know so that’s kind of my message to others. I was in pretty, pretty dire shape after the incident and the fact that I could come back here, stand strong and proud, it definitely helps me out mentally.
Alex: For sure, and same here. It’s kind of nice being back here, a little surreal but having Vin here, Shai and Dvir, obviously, it just kind of helps with the whole process and kind of gives us closure on this whole situation.
Vinny is now using his platform to try and make ghost guns illegal in the U.S. He’s hosting a fundraiser next month in his hometown. Proceeds will go to two organizations at the forefront of the fight to ban the unserialized weapons.
The suspected shooter, 32-year-old Travis Sarreshteh has pleaded not guilty to murder and attempted murder. He’ll be back in court in January.