HOUSTON -

Deputies were looking for three men who ambushed a father on his way home from work early Tuesday.

Jose Soto, 48, was walking to his apartment at the Willow Bend Apartments in the 13900 block of Bammel North Houston near Veterans Memorial in northwest Houston at 3 a.m. when Soto was approached by three men with a gun, officials said. The gunmen tried to rob him.

When he refused to hand over his money, Soto was shot, investigators said. Soto managed to get the gun before the suspects ran away, officials said.

"The victim was shot and was able to wrestle the gun away from him, but unfortunately was not able to return fire and strike one of the suspects," said Sgt. Robert Schields with the Harris County Sheriff's Office.

He then staggered up to his second-floor apartment, where he collapsed. His 15-year-old son, Javier, woke up to the sound of his father screaming in pain.

He came into the living room and saw his father bleeding on the floor saying, "I think I'm going to die."

"He told us it was three guys that came up to him. They told him to go to the ground, but he didn't want to," said Javier Soto, the victim's son. "When he came home, he could barely talk."

Jose Soto was rushed to Ben Taub Hospital in critical condition. Javier Soto said his father was shot in the upper stomach.

"We need to get a good interview from (Soto) to see if we can get a better description to see if he can take us and lead us to these guys," Schields said.

Friends said they were shocked by the shooting.

"He worked two jobs to support his family," friend Amanda Noel Cortes said.

Cortes said she has lived in the area for 25 years, and Tuesday morning's robbery is not the first crime at the complex.

"They did put announcements on our doors, warning that there are thefts between the hours of 11 and 4 in the morning," she said.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS.