MODESTO, Calif. — Holding up a tattered pink tie-dye sweatshirt seared by the heat of a bullet, 15-year-old Aurora says she was inches from paralysis and even death.
“It was a couple of inches from my spine, actually,” she said outside of her family’s Modesto home.
The Davis High School student -- who didn’t want her last name published -- was shot Saturday night while in the safety of her own bedroom.
Modesto police say her neighbor, 22-year-old Giovanni Omar Gutierrez-Garcia, was handling a firearm when it discharged. He turned himself in Tuesday.
“Things happen for a reason. I have a second shot at life,” said Aurora, who's taking the whole ordeal in stride.
She says she hopped into bed after getting home from a party and was scrolling through her phone when she felt a sudden pain in her upper back.
“I thought something had exploded, something electronic,” she said.
Aurora says she didn’t know what it was, but knew immediately something was wrong.
“It was really warm and really hard to breathe since it was really close to my lung,” said Aurora. “My chest really hurt, and it was really hard for me to breathe.”
Her mother and sister came rushing in and realized a bullet pierced her bedroom wall. A hole roughly a quarter-inch in diameter is left in the wall with light seeping through from the outside.
The bullet was lodged in Aurora’s back. Her family called 911 and rushed her to the hospital, where she spent four uncomfortable and restless days.
She says the ordeal had a greater emotional impact on her family, especially her mother and little brother.
“He started crying because he thought, he said... he thought I was going to die,” said Aurora. “But I’m fine. I’m standing. I can walk. I can talk. I can move.”
Outside Aurora’s bedroom, a series of bullet holes show where the bullet came from. There's a direct line between the bullet hole in her bedroom and a larger bullet hole in her neighbor’s garage.
Aurora says she’s glad her neighbor took responsibility, but doesn’t want to see him in jail over an accident.
“I’m alive,” she said with a smile. “So, let’s be thankful right? I don’t really blame him and I don’t hold any grudges against him or anything like that.”
Gutierrez-Garcia is charged with possession of an assault weapon, negligent discharge of a firearm and inflicting great bodily injury in the commission of a felony.