Cops call Modestan 'hero' for aiding shooting victim

Christy Rodriguez said she didn't realize when a van stopped in front of her Modesto home and the driver asked to usea phone to call 911 that there was a man inside who had been shot
Christy Rodriguez said she didn't realize when a van stopped in front of her Modesto home and the driver asked to usea phone to call 911 that there was a man inside who had been shot Modesto Bee

A good Samaritan helped save the life of a 37-year-old Riverbank man who was shot in the neck Tuesday in a north Modesto home.

"She's a hero," said Lt. Chris Fuzie, a police spokesman.

The victim, Osvaldo Auiniga, underwent surgery Tuesday but was expected to survive, police said. Tuesday night, he was in critical but stable condition, a nursing supervisor said.

A 15-year-old Modesto boy claimed responsibility for the shooting and turned himself in to Modesto police Tuesday about 3:15 p.m. He came to the station with his mother, Fuzie said. They brought the gun with them.

Police withheld the teen's name because of juvenile privacy laws.

"We're not sure why it happened," Fuzie said. "It started out with one story, and now it's morphed into something else. We think they're lying about that, too."

Tuesday afternoon, Auiniga went to the 2300 block of Coston Avenue to meet someone, police said. The area is just east of Prescott Road and south of Muncy Park. Auiniga was shot about 1:10 p.m., while he was at a home on Coston, Fuzie said. He staggered to a friend's van and they drove away.

About the same time, Christy Rodriguez, 38, was outside her home in the 2000 block of Robbie Avenue. Rodri-guez, her fiancé and his best friend, all sporting Oakland A's gear, were getting ready to head to an A's game when that van stopped in front of them.

A woman jumped out and asked to use a phone to call 911, said Rodriguez, a cashier.

"She said somebody had been shot," Rodriguez said. "I didn't realize he was in the van."

When the driver told Rodriguez the man was in the vehicle, Rodriguez asked if she could check on him. She used to work as a medical assistant, so she thought she might be able to help with more than a phone, she said. She ran inside her house and brought towels to the van.

"She (the driver) wouldn't have made it to the hospital," Rodriguez said. "Not the way he was bleeding."

Auiniga was lying in the back of the white cargo van with his head resting on a case of Budweiser beer. A pit bull puppy was lying on top of the blood- covered victim, who was pale and awake but seemed "out of it."

"He was squirting out blood, so I applied pressure to the wound," she said.

"Just hold on," she told him. "Help's coming. Squeeze my hand if you can hear me."

He squeezed. Then Auiniga stopped breathing, although he had a pulse. Rodriguez administered cardiopulmonary resuscitation for several minutes.

Auiniga started to breathe again, and Rodriguez kept pressure on his wound until paramedics arrived.

The man was rushed into surgery, Fuzie said. Doctors later told police that the bullet missed the man's spine and carotid artery. The artery supplies blood to the head and neck.

While Auiniga was on his way to the hospital, officers surrounded the home on Coston at which the shooting happened. They detained three teenage girls as possible witnesses. The teenager who turned himself in does not live at that home, Fuzie said.

Investigators searched the Coston home and are interviewing witnesses to find out what happened.

Despite all the excitement, Rodriguez made it to the Oakland A's game.

Police ask anyone with information about the shooting to call Detectives Mike Hicks or Dale Lingerfelt at 572-9551.

Bee staff writer Emilie Raguso can be reached at eraguso@modbee.com or 578-2235.