NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A Bronx man’s backpack saved his life when he was struck by a stray bullet, police say.

Shot in the head, blood dripping down his face, Fernelin Erncarnacion was rushed rushed to St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx.

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“I run to the police, and I tell them I need help, I get shot,” Erncarnacion, 22, told CBS2’s Marc Liverman.

His 24-year-old sister described the moment she got the call Tuesday night. She’s still too scared to speak on camera.

Fernelin Erncarnacion

Fernelin Erncarnacion, 22, was shot in the head by a stray bullet in the Bronx. (credit: CBS2)

“When you heard somebody get shot in their head, it means they dead,” Erncarnacion’s sister said.

Ercarnacion was walking near Davidson Avenue and East Fordham in Kingsbridge Heights when it started to drizzle. So he grabbed his backpack and held it over his head to shield him from the rain. But that backpack quickly became a shield for the stray bullet.

His sister said: “The material of the bag is very thick, so it kind of slowed the bullet from going into his brain.”

So much so that he was able to tell an officer what happened right after he was hit.

“I asked him, ‘Is this a real bullet, because it doesn’t feel like it?'” Erncarnacion said. “And they said, ‘I don’t know, but you know something, you’re a lucky guy.”

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The bullet is still lodged in his skull.

As for how long it’s going to be before Erncarnacion leaves the hospital, his sister said it could be weeks. It could be months before he gets back to living a normal life, she added.

“Then maybe next week they might take out the bullet because right now they don’t want it to cause any other bleeding,” she said.

Erncarnacion never saw the shooter. Police say it doesn’t appear that he was the intended target, but he still fears for his life.

“He’s been crying a lot,” his sister said. “He don’t know who shot him, what happened. It’s going to take a long time for him to recover with that.”

And a long time for his sister to recover emotionally, too.

“I don’t feel hate (for the shooter),” she said. “I just feel really sad that we have to go through this.

“Thank you, God, my brother is alive, and that’s all I care.”

Police told CBS2 they found four .38-caliber shell casings a full block away from where the victim was shot.

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The backpack is now police evidence. When they’re done with, Erncarncion wants it back.