Man struck in neck by celebratory gunshot

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LAKE COUNTY, Ohio -- A teacher is recovering after being shot in the neck by a bullet that fell from the sky, and doctors say he is extremely lucky to be alive.

“It missed the carotid artery by an inch, missed nerves by millimeters,” said Samuel Rotker, “It’s lodged in the SCM muscle; that’s the large neck muscle.”

The bullet came from what’s called celebratory gunfire, when people shoot guns up into the air, and those come back down with deadly force.

It happened to Samuel this past July 4th holiday around 2 p.m.  The Florida man and about 30 people were touring the Hershey Montessori School campus in Concord Township.

He says they heard a few smaller fireworks, but then heard a couple of really loud bangs and, seconds later, he was struck.

“Suddenly, I was just hit from above in the neck and, like, I knew instantly I’d been shot,” said Rotker, who says he immediately thought of his wife who was traveling to Northeast Ohio for the holiday.

“Am I gonna die in this field and a stranger greet her at airport?” said Sam.

He was first taken to Tripoint Hospital and then to Hillcrest Hospital where CAT scans showed the bullet lodged about 7 mm deep into his neck, close to his spine and carotid artery.

He says doctors told him he’d recover, but it would be too risky to remove the bullet because of its location.

“I’m okay,” said Sam, “other than it’s always gonna be there.”

School was not in session at the time, but Paula Leigh-Doyle, the head of the school, told FOX 8’s Suzanne Stratford that she was “dismayed” when she heard of the celebratory shooting.

“This event, while tragic and isolated, hopefully will serve as an opportunity to increase gun safety awareness,” said Leigh-Doyle.

That’s what Sam wants too.

As someone who has fired guns himself, he says people must be more responsible with weapons, because very easily he or someone else could’ve been killed.

“I mean it’s unconscionable,” said Sam.

The Lake County Sheriff’s Department is investigating, but at this time they can’t say for certain where the bullet came from.

According to the incident report, the bullet could’ve traveled “approximately 150 degrees anywhere from the right of him,” and could’ve been fired from anywhere in southern Concord Twp. to as far north as Mentor Ave.

Anyone with information is asked to call the sheriff’s department  at (440) 350-5528.

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