CHEROKEE COUNTY, Ga. — The only victim to survive the deadly spa shootings in Atlanta and Cherokee County last month is speaking out for the first time about the harrowing experience.
A month ago, Elcias Hernandez-Ortiz was shot in the face when a gunman walked into a Cherokee County spa and opened fire. Hernandez-Ortiz survived, but four others were killed. The suspect, 21-year-old Robert Long, is then accused of driving south into Atlanta, where police say he walked into two more Asian spas and opened fire. Four more people were killed there.
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Hernandez-Ortiz told Channel 2′s Audrey Washington he was inside a room at Young’s Asian Massage when Long walked in and opened fire. He said he thought he was going to die.
“I heard the shots fired once I was inside the room. I opened the door so I could see the victims and I saw the attacker and I looked at him eye to eye. I begged him not to shoot me,” Hernandez-Ortiz told Washington through an interpreter.
Police say Long shot Hernandez-Ortiz in the face. The bullet traveled from the side of his eye, down through his throat and lodged in his stomach.
“From the moment the bullet entered my head, you think you’re gonna die,” he said.
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Hernandez-Ortiz is still facing several surgeries but had a message for the families of the other victims and the community.
“The victim’s families, I feel sorry for them and my heart goes out to them,” he said through his interpreter.
Long has been charged with aggravated assault in connection to the shooting of Hernandez-Ortiz. He is also charged with eight counts of murder.
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While Hernandez-Ortiz hopes justice is done, he says “I don’t have any hate in my heart for the attacker.” He went on to say he hopes Long finds God and changes his way.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to raise money for Hernandez-Ortiz’s medical expenses. If you would like to donate, click here.