LAKE COUNTY, Fla. - A teen is recovering after getting shot in the face while leaving a 3-year-old’s birthday party in Eustis over the weekend.
Thomas Saliba, 17, spoke exclusively with FOX 35 News from his hospital bed.
The shooting happened at the Sunset Island Skate Park.
"They told me I’m a miracle," Saliba said from the hospital.
An X-ray image shows just how close the bullet came to Saliba’s brain.
The bullet is still sitting in the back of his head.
"Half a centimeter to the right, I would have died," Saliba said.
The teen says he was leaving his friend’s nephew’s birthday party when someone in a gold van fired three shots, the first striking him in the face.
He never lost consciousness while friends and family rushed to his side.
"I did not want people to see the wound because there’s so much blood," Saliba said. "I mean, it hit me right in the face. It was gruesome at first, and I just didn’t want nobody else to see it or witness it because that’s just something you cannot forget."
Saliba, who says he’s an honor student, still can’t comprehend why someone would want to shoot or kill him.
"I think when I was coming out, they thought maybe it was somebody else, and they shot at me thinking it was him," Saliba said.
Police say witnesses remember seeing the gold van the suspected shooter used sitting in the parking lot for 10 to 20 minutes before they opened fire then sped away.
Saliba says he has no idea who it could have been.
"Be careful where you go," Saliba said. "Nowadays, I mean, people just shoot for no reason, apparently."
The 17-year-old tells FOX 35 he is able to get up and walk around.
After getting shot on Saturday, he could be able to leave the hospital as soon as Tuesday.