CHULA VISTA, Calif. — A 16-year-old in Chula Vista, California, is being hailed a hero after he was shot three times trying to shield his mother from a hail of gunfire.
“He's my baby. He didn't deserve any of this,” said a tearful Michelle Herrera.
Herrera says her son, Jorge Martinez, insisted on riding along when a friend of hers called asking for a ride after a night out early Saturday morning.
“He said, ‘Mom, you're not going anywhere by yourself.’” said Herrera.
Jorge stayed in the car on The Rocks Cocktails on E. Street while Herrera went inside to get her friend. She says as they were leaving the bar, a man attacked her friend.
“I look back to see if she's following me. I turn around, and she's beneath this guy, and he's beating her up,” said Herrera.
Herrera said when she tried to pull her friend away, the man started hitting her, eventually body-slamming Herrera against a car.
Herrera says that during this time, Jorge jumped out of the car and tried to pull the man off her. Amid it all came the sound gunshots.
“I would say seven or eight shots,” said Herrera.
She says neither she nor her son saw the shooter. Herrera believes the man who attacked her was not the shooter.
Herrera, who was on the ground, says Jorge dove to protect her.
“I said, ‘Son, just stay down.’ He said, ‘Mom, I’m shot, and I love you.’” said Herrera.
Police say witnesses saw the shooter runoff.
41-year-old Richard Bernal was shot and would die at the hospital.
Jorge was shot three times: in the thigh, his side, and the back, the bullet lodging in his spine.
It is unknown if Jorge, a junior at Hilltop High, will walk again.
“He cries. He doesn't know what to say,” said Herrera.
Herrera says she is grateful her son is alive. She was not hurt.
“He is my hero, that he is. He saved my life,” said Herrera.
On Tuesday night, Jorge underwent surgery to remove the bullet from his spine.
A GoFundMe campaign has been set up to help with medical and other expenses.
Police say the shooting suspect is a dark-skinned male with a brightly colored shirt. Anyone with information is asked to call Crimestoppers at 888-580-8477.
Michael Chen at KGTV first reported this story.