Saved by the Rosary

By Thomas Schneider

On a bright September day in Corpus Christ, Texas, Fatima custodian Mr. Charles Sulzen and I were visiting people who wanted the Fatima statue to visit their home. It was our second visit of the day and upon arriving, as usual, we entered the house to see where the host would like us to place Our Lady. When we entered, we saw many pictures of police functions, several medals and numerous other mementos.

After the Fatima presentation, when we could examine the interesting pictures more closely, we learned that the decorated law enforcement officer was Mr. David Garcia, whom we first greeted when we walked in the house. We asked him how he had received his medals and he told us his story. A story, which, because of his faith, can only be called miraculous.

Deputy Sherriff Garcia
A current photo of Deputy Sherriff Garcia who is a 26-year active veteran with the Nueces Country Sheriff's Department.

On February 11, 2001, the Nueces County Sheriff ’s Department received a call from a local convenience store in Bishop, Texas, of a suspicious man outside the store. The department dispatched Deputy Sheriff Garcia. Upon parking in front of the convenience store, the suspicious man immediately went to the patrol car’s passenger door and knocked on the window, motioning Deputy Sheriff Garcia to unlock the door.

Garcia smiled and motioned with his finger to come around to his side of the car so he could speak to him. The suspicious man acquiesced and walked around to speak to Deputy Sheriff Garcia, who got out of his patrol car. “Well, are you going to give me a ride?” the suspicious man asked. “Well, I am going to have to check you,” replied Garcia. At this, the suspicious man drew a .38 caliber revolver from beneath his coat and began shooting.

The first shot went right above Garcia’s body armor in the upper left chest area. Garcia immediately drew his sidearm and turned to get away. As he turned, the criminal shot him three more times. Garcia got to his radio and yelled, “324! I’m hit!” This meant backup would be on its way because the department already knew his location. As he ran and turned the corner, he collapsed, and saw the criminal run past him for about twenty yards, stopped, turned around and started walking back. Garcia tried to stand up and return fire but fell backwards. He said this was the best thing that could have happened because he was leaning against the wall of the store and facing the criminal. If he had fallen anywhere else he would be flat on his back and completely vulnerable.

Badly wounded, Garcia again tried to lift his sidearm to fire but could not. He looked down and saw two large pools of blood on either side of him getting larger. He lost his hearing and he was beginning to have tunnel vision. He commented later, “I had seen people in accidents that had bled less and they had died, so I thought I was going to die.” It was then that he started praying. “Don’t let me die, give me the strength to protect myself,” he remembers praying.

As he looked at the approaching criminal, he noticed the criminal’s eyes were red. The criminal got within two feet and aimed to put a bullet right between Garcia’s eyes. At that moment, Garcia received the strength he had asked God for and shot the criminal 12 times. His prayers were answered, for his first round went right into the criminal’s pant pocket where he had a pocketful of .38 caliber rounds and Garcia’s fired bullet caused two rounds to fire into the criminal’s femoral artery. The criminal fell on top of Garcia and died almost immediately. Garcia waited for help to arrive with his opponent on top of him.

It took about five minutes for the ambulance and police to arrive. Once the paramedics put him in the ambulance, they began trying to stabilize him for the 45-minute drive to Spohn Memorial in Corpus Christi, Texas. They cut off his shirt and found that he was carrying a small rosary in his left breast pocket. The paramedics took the rosary out and gave it to Garcia to hold. The paramedics saw that his body armor stopped two bullets to his back. “You’re one lucky dude,” the paramedic said, “you’re going to be all right.” Raising his hand with the rosary, Garcia whispered, “Praise be to the Lord, praise be to the Lord.” And there was still more praise to be done, because the paramedics had failed to see the other two bullet wounds because of the blood loss. In fact, Garcia had to be revived twice on the way to the hospital and once more on the operating table. After four hours of surgery, the doctors came out saying that he was going to live. But the doctors had to go back in afterward because he was losing blood pressure. The doctors operated again and found the first shot to the chest had gone through Garcia’s left ventricle. The skilled surgeons repaired the damage and after undergoing over a year of physical rehabilitation and therapy, Garcia recovered to full health.

Deputy Sheriff Garcia receiving medal of valor
Deputy Sheriff Garcia receiving a medal of valor and a purple heart four weeks after his life-threatening encounter.

Beyond a shadow of a doubt, Deputy Sheriff Garcia did see the hand of God several times that fateful day. He was shot in the heart; did not go into shock; killed his aggressor; survived the 45-minute drive to Corpus Christi, Texas; lived through two serious surgeries; and is still an active law enforcement officer for the Sheriff of Nueces County. He is a living testimony that faith in God, no matter how bad or desperate the situation, can resolve anything.

From Crusade Magazine: March / April 2011

Header Image: Mr. Thomas Schneider has been a part-time custodian with America Needs Fatima for three years.