MIAMI (WSVN) - A South Florida officer who was shot by a suspected shoplifter at a Wal-Mart in Northwest Miami-Dade was released from the hospital, Saturday afternoon.
7News cameras captured Miami-Dade Police Officer Manuel Gonzalez as he walked out of Jackson Memorial Hospital alongside his wife, Sherry Gonzalez, and several fellow officers.
Before heading home, the 31-year-old, a father of two small children, stopped to speak with reporters about the tense ordeal. “I was shot multiple times throughout my leg and my buttocks, on my hip, on my back,” he said.
7News cameras showed Gonzalez limping into Ryder Trauma Center while being assisted by Miami-Dade Fire Rescue paramedics and other officers, Wednesday afternoon. Fellow law enforcers remained by his side throughout his hospital stay.
“It’s overwhelming, with everybody here, and I feel great,” he said.
Gonzalez had been working an off-duty detail at the Wal-Mart located near Northwest 79th Street and 32nd Avenue, when, police said, he spotted 54-year-old ex-con David Facen attempting to shoplift.
Investigators said, when Gonzalez confronted the suspect in the parking lot of the Wal-Mart, Facen pulled out a gun and shot the officer several times.
Gonzalez was able to shoot back, killing Facen.
Outside JMH, Gonzalez said he is aware how fortunate he is. “I’m walking, and I’m happy to be here and happy to be alive,” he said.
His wife, a teacher, said she received news of the shooting at school. “My heart immediately sunk, and I got very emotional,” said Sherry.
In the end, her husband did not require surgery, but he will need physical therapy.
Miami-Dade Police Officer Kevin Diaz, who helped bring Gonzalez to the hospital, was also on hand to see him go home.
“I want to say, I love you, man,” Gonzalez said to Diaz, as both men embraced.
“You came to my rescue. You’re my guardian angel, and I appreciate everything you’ve done for me, man,” said Gonzalez.
“I love you too, bro. I’m just happy that you’re OK,” said Diaz.
“He’s my brother, my brothers in blue, so we’re family,” said Gonzalez.
Gonzalez can’t help but think about the man who could have ended his life. “You never know. That guy would have probably gotten out there and maybe harm the community or done something worse than what happened,” he said. “I want to go and return back to work. I enjoy it, and this is a passion of mine. This is not like a regular job.”
“All the support has been very overwhelming, and I appreciate it very much,” said Sherry as she fought back tears.
Gonzalez said he still isn’t sure when he will go back to work.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating the shooting.
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