Sole survivor of the metro Atlanta spa shootings returns home from hospital

Updated: Apr. 15, 2021 at 4:37 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) - The lone survivor in the metro Atlanta spa shootings is finally back at home after getting shot in the face during the shooting spree on March 16.

Elcias Hernandez Ortiz turned 30 on Thursday and was able to celebrate his birthday at home with his family after being released from the hospital. He spent nearly a month in the ICU recovering from numerous surgeries.

Attorney Doug Rohan, of Rohan Law PC, is representing Hernandez Ortiz pro bono and will help him prepare for pre-trial investigations and also assist with coordinating any private or public victim relief funds. “At the time of the shooting, Mr. Hernandez Ortiz was in the therapy room when the shooter broke down the door and killed the massage therapist.

The shooter then turned the gun on Mr. Hernandez Ortiz, shooting him in the face. The bullet ricocheted off the inside of his skull and traveled down his esophagus into his lungs,” said Rohan.

Rohan assisted CBS46 with translation as Reporter Brittany Edney spoke with Hernandez Ortiz about the moment a gunman walked into Young’s Asian Massage and started shooting.

“It’s so hard, so very hard,” said Hernandez Ortiz. “Yes, I saw him eye-to-eye and I begged him not to shoot me but he did it.”

Police say suspect 21-year-old Robert Long shot and killed 8 people at three different spas in Metro Atlanta on March 16th.

“If I had not lifted up my face to look at him, he probably would have shot me in the back of the head and things would have ended differently,” said Hernandez Ortiz.

Instead, he was shot in the face. He described how the bullet entered through the bridge of his nose and ultimately ended up in his abdomen where it still sits as doctors believe it is too risk to attempt to move. Hernandez Ortiz says he didn’t think he would survive. “I think, I’m dying; I’m scared a lot. I’m thankful to God that I’m here,” said Hernandez Ortiz.

He spent nearly a month in the ICU recovering from numerous surgeries. From his hospital bed, he watched the interview CBS46 did with his 9-year-old daughter, Yoseline just one day after the shooting spree while she waited on updates on her dad.

“He’s a really good dad and I don’t want him to go,” cried Yoseline. “When I see this video, my heart is broken in that moment but at the same time, it gave me power to wake up,” said Hernandez Ortiz. At the same moment, my daughter is my eye. My daughter is everything to me. My family, my wife.”

Rohan says there are substantial medical expenses that remain unpaid and an uncertain financial future awaits and hope that those in a position to help will continue to support Mr. Hernandez Ortiz and his family by way of the GoFundMe page listed here.

Hernandez Ortiz says he is so appreciative of all he love and support that his family has already received.