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‘I was on a ventilator for 5 days': Cook's Corner shooting survivor reunites with first responders who saved him

Two months ago Monday, a gunman opened fire at an Orange County bar and restaurant killing three people and injuring six others.

Michael Bertuccini said he only remembers pieces of that evening. He recalled being shot and fighting for his life while the shooting unfolded at the Cook’s Corner bar/restaurant in scenic Trabuco Canyon in Orange County.

It was a chaotic night he said he was fortunate to survive, thanks in large part to the actions of responding deputies. He recently came face-to-face in an emotional reunion with those who aided the father of two children. 

“I appreciate it and, again, my two boys do, too,” said Bertuccini as he wiped a tear.

He said talking about what he survived is part of the healing process, even though the wounds from the gunshot still hurt.

“I feel good, but I’m still having issues,” Bertuccini said.

A security camera from Cook’s Corner captured the moment 59-year-old retired Ventura Police Department Sgt. John Snowling fired several rounds outside the bar and restaurant on Aug. 23, sending people running for their lives. 

The same surveillance video showed Bertuccini outside with a friend when the gunman shot him.

“As soon as he opens the door, he starts shooting at us and people ran,” said Bertuccini. “I thought I got punched. Once I realized he was shooting at us, I pushed my buddy and said, ‘Run, he’s shooting.’ We got down into the ravine and stayed there.”

The Orange County Sheriff’s Department said within two minutes, their team was on the scene and quickly identified Snowling. The gunman was killed in the gunfire, but not before killing three people.

Deputy Aaron Kozloff was among the law enforcement officers who responded to the shooting.

“When I got here, there was shots being fired, and I ran up to help my partners. That’s when I saw Mike for the first time,” said Deputy Aaron Kozloff with the Orange County Sheriff Department.

Kozloff was one of several first responders that evening who saved lives.

“We planned the escort from Cook’s Corner to Missions Viejo Medical Hospital. I was in surgery with you when they took the bullet out of you,” said another deputy.

Bertuccini said he continues a long path of recovery while never forgetting some encouraging words from his sons.

“I was on a ventilator for five days in a coma. My family brought my boys to see me to hold their hand. My 6-year-old told me, ‘You have to fight. Just get better and come home.’ I did that because I was not going to let that shooter win and take my life,” added Bertuccini.

Cook’s Corner, which continues to hold fundraisers for the victims, has since reopened.

Source: NBC Los Angeles

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