NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A 20-year-old man who was shot and wounded on the Bryant Park ice rink spoke out about his experience Tuesday.
Javier Contreras spoke exclusively to CBS 2’s Tamara Leitner. He was wounded in the shooting late on Saturday, Nov. 9, along with a 14-year-old boy identified as Adonis Mera.
“That day, I remember I was skating like always, and this guy called me over and told me to hand over my jacket,” Contreras said.
Contreras skated at Bryant Park every Friday and Saturday. But something odd happened at the ice rink around 11 p.m. that night, when a stranger demanded that he give up his $600 coat.
“He told me to give him my jacket, and I said no,” Contreras said.
Initially, he thought that would be the end of it.
“I didn’t think it was that serious at first,” Contreras said. “But then after he came back, I thought he really wanted my jacket.”
Contreras, who lives in the Bronx and works at a fishmarket to support his family, had just bought himself a popular Marmot coat.
“At first, I heard the gunshots, and then I looked back and saw him with the gun in his hand,” he said.
Skaters scrambled for cover as a panic ensued at the rink.
“I tried to get away after he shot me the first time,” Contreras said. “But after that, I fell on the ground, and he kept shooting.”
Contreras was struck four times.
“I went through my whole life. I just thought about my family and my mom,” he said. “I just wanted to live. I didn’t want to die.”
He survived the shooting, but not without major injuries.
“I got shot in my right hand, my left hand, my right leg and my hip,” he said. He added that his middle finger was “destroyed.”
Mera, who was only a bystander, has been released from the hospital after being wounded in the back. There was concern following the shooting that Mera might never walk again, although his mother said three days after the shooting that her son was moving his legs a little bit and was stable.
Police arrested Corey Dunton, 16, the day after the shooting. He was charged as an adult with two counts of attempted murder, assault and criminal possession of a weapon.
Meanwhile, doctors have not been able to remove the bullet from Contreras’s leg. He still needs at least one more surgery on his right hand, and months of rehab.
“I’m worried because I don’t know if I’m going to be able to pay, or if insurance is going to pay all of it,” he said.
Contreras also still could not believe two weeks later that such a senseless shooting happened all because of a jacket.
“There’s no point,” he said. “Why not work and get a job and just buy your own jacket?”
Contreras said he usually takes his 13-year-old brother, Mark, with him to skate at the park. This time, Mark was not accompanying Contreras, and Contreras was relieved.
Dunton has been ordered held without bail. He was due back in court Dec. 3.
Contreras said he still does not have his skates, phone, or coat, as police are holding them as evidence.
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