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Church's Chicken shooting victim speaks on day he returns home from hospital

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Posted at 9:21 PM, Dec 22, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-23 09:59:04-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- A man shot while working at an Otay Mesa Church's Chicken restaurant returned home Sunday after more than a month in the hospital.

Mario Rojas said he was working the cash register on Nov. 6 -- his fourth night on the job. He said he took a second job to provide for his family, including his new bride.

That night, a man later identified as 49-year-old Albert Lee Blake, walked in and tried to pay for his order with counterfeit money. After employees refused the bills, Blake left the restaurant, but returned a short time later and shot three employees.

Rojas was the first hit.

"He came to me and he didn't talk to me; he just grabbed the gun and started shooting me,” Rojas told 10News.

Rojas jumped in front of another coworker, saving her life. Another co-worker, 28-year-old Maribel Ibanez, was shot and killed.


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Rojas said he could see and hear the chaos. He said he was most concerned about a child in the restaurant during the shooting. After the gunman left, he said he remembers getting out the back door, feeling weak, and a 7-Eleven employee coming to his rescue.

Rojas said he thought he was going to die and asked customers who pulled into the drive through to call his wife so he could say goodbye.

That night in the hospital turned into a month and a half.

"He destroyed my life, my dreams, everything," Rojas said.

Rojas’ left arm was shattered, and it remains in a sling and wrapped in bandages. He was still in his hospital pants and socks despite having gone home.

He described his wounds and showed 10News the scar that stretched across his stomach.

"The bullet went into my spine; they're not going to remove it,” said Rojas.

He said he's worried about providing for his family, saying he hasn't received any money for worker's compensation.

Instead, he's relied on the kindness of others, saying a pharmacist paid for his pain medication.

Rojas asked parents for one thing: "Teach your kids with love because if you teach your kids with bad stuff, they're going to do what they did to me."

While in pain, Rojas said he got his Christmas wish.

"I just want to thank God I'm here, that's my present,” Rojas said.

Rojas's daughter created a GoFundMe page to help her father with expenses, click here if you'd like to donate.

10News reached out to Church's Chicken for a comment but did not immediately receive a response.