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Church's Chicken shooting survivor shares his story

Mario Rojas has spent the past six weeks in the hospital in critical condition.

OTAY MESA, San Diego — One of the employees seriously injured during last month’s horrific shooting at a Church’s Chicken in Otay Mesa, that left one person dead, on Monday shared his emotional story of survival.

Mario Rojas, 52, was on his fourth day on the job when he found himself in the line of fire. He was working at the Church’s Chicken on the night of November 6, when 49-year-old Albert Lee Blake walked into the fast-food restaurant after initially being kicked out for trying to use a counterfeit bill and allegedly opening fire on the employees behind the counter.

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“He never said anything – not a word. He just started shooting. Everybody was screaming. There was blood all over the floor. I feel like i was in a war,” said Mario.

He managed to make it to the back of the restaurant, shielding another co-worker form yet another bullet that hit him. Then another bullet hit him in the stomach.

Mario said the gunman then simply left.

“When he finished shooting everybody, he didn’t say anything. He just left walking like nothing,” said Mario.

The shooting left 28-year-old Marible Ibanez dead and two others wounded, including Mario.

Bloody but remarkable feeling no pain, Mario was able to escape through a rear emergency exit into the parking lot where an employee from a nearby 7-Eleven gave him first aid.

“I left like was about to leave, and he said, ‘talk to me,’” said Mario.

Mario said he then asked another good Samaritan to call his wife on his cellphone.  

“I am calling you because I want to say goodbye,” Mario told his wife.

He was rushed to the hospital where he remained for six weeks. His arm completely crushed, and the second bullet still lodged inside him.

“It is still in my spine. They are not going to remove it. It is going to stay there,” said Mario.

Mario is finally back home with mounting medical bills and several surgeries still ahead of him. A GoFundMe page has been set up to help Mario with expenses. 

Mario said he now has a new outlook on life and never takes a moment for granted.

“Every day when I wake up, I thank God that I am still alive,” he said.

As for Albert Lee Blake, he is currently behind held on a $5 million bail. He is set to return to court in Chula Vista on January 13.

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