SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - An emotional meeting unfolded Friday afternoon, as family members of a Lemon Grove shooting victim met the off-duty Marine who came to his aid.
Outside a hospital entrance, a grateful mother and an emotional aunt met the Marine they call their hero.
“You saved my son’s life. So glad you were there. Thank you for your service,” said Alicia Mansi.
“Thank you so much,” said Deborah Shilling.
The meeting took place two days after shots rang out near a Lemon Grove grocery store parking lot, an apparent drive-by shooting.
Active-duty Marine Giovanni Brunacini, who was on leave, heard the shots and grabbed his medical bag. The shooting instructor is trained as a combat medic.
On the ground was a homeless man, Robert Mansi, shot at least 3 times, twice in the side and once in the wrist.
That night, ABC 10News learned Brunacini was able to apply pressure on his side and slow the bleeding until paramedics arrived. He also put a splint on Mansi's wrist and kept him talking, so he wouldn't go into shock.
This was Brunacini's first experience treating a bullet wound.
“I have to credit my corpsman who taught me everything I knew. So much exposure through training,” said Brunacini.
Mansi, 37, is now in stable condition, according to his mother, Alicia Mansi.
When family members saw the original ABC 10News story, they reached out, hoping to contact Brunacini. We called him. He wanted to meet.
And meet they did. A Marine and loved ones of a man he helped save.
"Makes me feel good inside. Knowing I helped this man, this family,” said Brunacini.
“I feel honored. Grateful. I'm speechless. I just want you to know grateful I am,” said Alicia said Brunacini.
“He’s a hero, definitely a hero in my life, always,” said Alicia.
Alicia and Brunacini did exchange numbers and plan to keep in touch.
The shooting remains under investigation.