San Diego native shot at Arizona college is home

Posted at 11:55 AM, May 21, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-21 19:24:33-04

A San Diego native who took a bullet to his neck and held his dying friend is back home for the summer and giving his first TV interview.

While thousands of college kids head back to San Diego for summer break, only one came home with a scar from being shot in the neck. "It missed my carotid artery by a quarter inch," said Nick Prato.

Nick Prato and three of his Delta Chi fraternity brothers were shot on October 9, 2015, leaving a party at Northern Arizona University when the shooting started.

Nick and two of his friends survived the shooting, but their friend Colin Brough did not. Nick held Colin as he took his final breaths.

"It's rough to think one of my friends didn't make it out alive," said Nick.

The next night, Nick attended a vigil for Colin. The image of his pain was broadcast on newscasts across the country. "It was heartbreaking, it almost didn't seem real," said Prato.

Even now, it's tough for Nick to talk about the details of what happened, except for one. The night of the shooting, Nick was wearing a necklace containing some of his grandfather's ashes. The bullet that went into his neck hit the necklace.

When asked if the necklace saved his life, Nick replied, "I don't want to go too far to say that, but I know my grandpa was definitely there that night watching over me."

Police took Nick's necklace as evidence, which makes a welcome home gift Nick's mom had planned, priceless.

"How did you get this?" Nick asked while opening the gift. Nick's cousin lent him an identical necklace while he heals. 

Nick had to pause the interview because he became too emotional. "Mom, can we cut off right now," he asked.

Nick will be a senior next year studying hotel and restaurant management. He's still deciding on whether he wants to open up a restaurant or join the Marine Corps after graduation. Whichever path he chooses, he credits his girlfriend Abbey, Colin and the community for keeping him strong and focused on the future.

"I had times where it was hard but I feel wanting to honor Colin and wanting to honor his memory. Do good. Live for him," said Nick.

The accused shooter, Steven Jones, is on house arrest, facing murder and aggravated assault charges. The trial is set for April 2017.