STUART, Fla. (WSVN) – A 20-year-old college athlete is recovering in the hospital after what authorities in Martin County are calling a miraculous escape from a shooting incident.
The young man was walking home when a gunman opened fire, and officials credit “the grace of God” for saving his life, with his phone likely acting as a life-saving shield.
Surveillance video reveals the vehicle Martin County Sheriff’s deputies are seeking in connection with the incident. The victim had just left a convenience store Wednesday night, en route to his home, when shots were fired.
“As he was getting near his house, a vehicle drove up, and the passenger in the front of that vehicle opened fire at him with a high-powered rifle,” shared Martin County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy John Budensiek.
Remarkably, the victim, who was on a cellphone at the time, was hit as one of the rounds traveled through his index finger and then through the phone he was holding.
Budensiek said that the situation could have easily turned into a homicide.
“It’s by the grace of God that we’re not discussing a homicide case today,” he said. “It’s just not just it’s an attempted homicide case. It was inches from a homicide case.”
Local residents expressed shock and concern upon learning about the incident.
“It’s terrible! Who’s out doing things like that or targeting people for certain things? It doesn’t make sense,” said Port Salerno resident Nathan McFadden.
Ralph Terrell, a Manatee Creek resident, said he has never seen anything like this in the neighborhood.
“It’s usually really quiet,” he said. “Nothing really goes on here. Everybody kind of minds their own business and looks out for each other. It’s unusual for that to happen.”
The victim, identified as a 20-year-old college football player, remains unnamed per Marcy’s Law.
Friends and community members are hopeful for his recovery.
“I hope the young man (will) be okay, he’s young, just starting to live, it’s terrible. It is terrible,” said McFadden.
Luckily the victim’s injuries are non-life-threatening.
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