One bullet pierced James Ortega’s abdomen and another shattered his elbow.
Twelve days later Ortega remained in ICU Thursday, recovering from the ambush that nearly killed him.
“He’s doing much better,” said Yuli Almeida, Ortega’s sister. “He’s been off of antibiotics because he’s not developing any infection.”
The shooting occurred in the parking lot of the Inwood Garden Apartments on the 6500 block of Fairdale Lane in southwest Houston on May 2.
Ortega’s friends told KPRC2 that he had parked his car, got out of it, and began the walk to his apartment when a man ambushed him.
Surveillance video released by Houston police shows the attack, as well as the white four-door sedan the gunman can be seen entering after shooting Ortega. The car has visible damage to its back bumper.
Ortega’s neighbor, who asked that we identify him by Eduardo, said he was driving home when he heard gunshots.
“As I’m approaching Fairdale Lane, I heard a couple of shots,” he said.
Eduardo said once he reached the complex, he saw a body. Then noticed it was his neighbor.
“He was just gushing blood out of his chest,” Eduardo said. He knew he had to try to stop Ortega’s bleeding if he was going to survive.
“I didn’t have any towels so I had to leave the scene real quick. Grab a phone,” he said.
Eduardo said medics arrived within four minutes of calling them. They rushed Ortega to Ben Taub Hospital by Life Flight.
“We are waiting for Friday. If he doesn’t develop an infection, they’re going to take out a tube that is through his nostril and to his stomach to see if he can start this weekend to (drink) some water,” Almeida said.
She added that maybe he’ll be able to swallow food too.
Houston police believe money was gunman’s motive.
Eduardo said when he discovered Ortega his pockets had been pulled out of his pants. He and other neighbors said crime is an increasing concern in their neighborhood.
The complex is one block from the Richmond corridor. Neighbors said police activity has become a hotbed in the area. HPD crime data confirmed a trend of thefts, primarily from cars, in the neighborhood since January.
“It’s a shame,” Eduardo said, appealing to authorities to help residents who say their safety has been compromised.
Ortega’s sister, who traveled to Texas from Colombia to be at her brother’s bedside, said she won’t leave until her brother is well. She said has had seven surgeries, but he is pulling through.
“Thank God that the surgery went well. He got two surgeries in his arm and five in his stomach,” Almeida said.
There is a GoFundMe page to help the family with medical costs and other expenses.