Sunday, June 17, 2018
Public safety

Tarpon Springs teen recalls getting shot while struggling with mugger

TARPON SPRINGS — Bradley Edward Perez was on the ground.

The 19-year-old could barely pull his cellphone from the pocket of his favorite pants.

"Momma," he said, "I don't know if I got shot or stabbed but there's a lot of blood."

His mom called police, then threw her electric wheelchair into its highest speed. She went nearly a mile to where her son was shot Saturday night, near a convenience store where he walked to buy cigarettes for her.

The shooter ran after the robbery attempt. Police hadn't identified a suspect Monday.

As Perez recalled it, the man had skulked near Tarpon and Walton avenues about 9:30 p.m. Perez and his friend, a 16-year-old girl, walked by. The man gestured for them to go into a darkened driveway, flashing a gun the color of polished chrome.

Perez doesn't remember exactly how, but he tried to grab the gun. That's when he got shot, the bullet entering and exiting through his left side.

He was flown to Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg, where the nursing student had once done an internship. He looked for people he knew but saw none.

Monday, the teenager peeled back gauze to reveal two round punctures. It hurt to sit down, he said, groaning when he stood up.

Though he spent the day resting and eating brownies for breakfast, Perez wanted to get back to work. Dreaming of becoming a nurse, he's a certified nursing assistant at a Clearwater assisted living facility.

Now he thinks maybe he shouldn't have gone for the gun: "It was pretty stupid to do it."

But his mother smiled.

"I'm proud of him, though," she said, "for protecting that girl."

Police continue to search for the assailant, whom they describe as in his early 30s, about 5-foot-3 to 5-foot-5, and between 130 and 150 pounds. He wore a gray or blue hoodie, police said.

Stephanie Wang can be reached at (727) 445-4155 or [email protected]

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