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Romulo De la Rosa

Romulo De la Rosa had been warned that someone had it in for him, but he didn’t take the warning seriously. On May 17, 2016, he was having a drink with a friend when he heard someone was outside looking for him. Out he went, and he was met with gunfire. He was shot four times: twice in his abdomen, once in his arm and once in his back as he turned for help.

Help was hard to find. The door of the bar had been locked and his friend wasn’t close. Romulo called 911, but had trouble giving directions to the dispatcher. Eventually, his friend drove him to Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital, and Romulo walked into the emergency center. It wasn’t until staff cut off his clothes and administered oxygen that Romulo passed out.

He woke in ICU. Surgeons, amazed he had lasted to make it to the hospital on his own, removed the bullets, part of his intestines and one kidney as well as cleaning and repairing the abdominal area. He stayed in the hospital six days, though he was encouraged to stay much longer.

“I’m very hard-headed,” he says. “Six days felt like an eternity. I thought I’d go to the emergency room, they would remove the bullets and I’d go home that night. My kids look at me like I’m a hero. I didn’t want them to see me in a hospital.”

His children, 15, 13, 12, 10 and four, did visit him. “They cried when they saw me, and I cried on the inside.”

Romulo says he received excellent care, though he isn’t a person who accepts care easily. A crew supervisor in the home-building industry, he’s accustomed to injuries. “Accidents happen,” he tells his employees. “Push through.” He returned to work 15 days after the incident, still in pain, because that’s what strong men do. They provide for their families.

It’s also part of his personality. He believes in being strong. “Grab the bull by the horns. Don’t let anything get the best of you.”