I survived: Shooting victim gives back after surviving burglar's bullet
All this week, we're sharing incredible stories of people who beat the odds and survived the unthinkable.
An Indianapolis man lived to share a terrifying ordeal that could happen to any of us - coming home to find yourself face to face with a gunman.
But a key decision helped him survive a home invasion.
When you see the pictures and hear his story, it's hard to imagine anyone could live to tell it. But here's the thing about Brian Hunter - he's determined and he's a survivor.
"From the very second that I got shot, I was absolutely determined that I wasn't gonna die," Hunter recalled. "I remember just laying there thinking, 'I am not going out like this. I'm not going to let this happen!'"
It was May of last year and Brian was going through his regular routine: come home for lunch to let the dog out.
"I literally pulled up, looked at the door and just kind of paused and I looked up and thought 'Aw man, somebody's broke in the house'," Hunter said. "There was a footprint where they'd tried to kick the door in."
Hunter didn't realize the intruder was still there, still inside his home.
"Not even thinking, I just stuck the key in the door, opened it right up and I just went marching in. As I walked through the kitchen door into the dining room, I confronted the burglar."
He was face to face with a criminal who'd ransacked the house.
"He reached in his pocket, pulled out a pistol and pointed it at me and told me to get my hands up," Hunter said. "I honestly thought that I was going to get shot then and when he didn't shoot me, I thought, 'Okay, what am I gonna do now?' and he was a little bit nervous, you know, and he kept pointing the gun at me and he was looking around, trying to decide what to do and that's when he backed me up."
The gunman told him to drop his cell phone and get on the ground. But Hunter carries two phones - a work cell and a personal cell.
That practice proved to be key to his survival.
"I literally took my other cell phone and I slid it underneath my stomach and I lay down on top of it," Hunter explained. "Every time he would move, I would turn my body and look at him and I just kept saying, 'You know, look, it's not worth this, man. Just whatever you want, just take it and get the hell out of here. I looked him right in the eye and then he just raised the gun up calmly, took aim and pulled the trigger."
He'd been shot by a burglar who ran off with only an iPod.
"I just remember twisting and remember thinking, 'Oh, this isn't good. This isn't good'," Hunter recalled.
Still conscious on the floor, with that hidden phone beneath him, Hunter took action. He was able to dial 911 and call for help.
"Then my lung collapsed. That was the moment that I was just...that's when I started to get a little bit scared," Hunter said.
Medics and police arrived within minutes, with Hunter bleeding and in need of critical care.
"I literally remember someone in a surgical mask leaning over me and saying, 'You're going to be okay. We're gonna give you something' and everything went black," Hunter said.
Dr. R. Lawrence Reed, Director of Trauma at IU Health Methodist Hospital, happened to be on duty that day.
"Well, he was in shock, which means his blood pressure was low. His heart rate was fast. His circulation was failing him because he lost so much blood," Dr. Reed said.
Dr. Reed discovered the bullet had gone through two body cavities, which is unusual. It injured Hunter's abdomen, his pancreas, his lung, spleen and diaphragm.
At one point, his heart stopped too.
"I couldn't believe that he was still alive," Dr. Reed said. "I remember locking eyes with one of my residents and thinking, 'My God, how is he still alive to go this long with this low of blood pressure and still make it through?' So he's obviously a very tough guy."
Hunter also needed blood - a lot of blood. He received 50 units that first day at Methodist Hospital. The human body holds about ten, which means they replenished his entire blood supply five times over.
"It was several days before they were able to get it all under control," Hunter said.
It would be many months before he was well enough to leave the hospital.
"He's fortunate to be alive because that's...we can't always get them back," Dr. Reed explained.
Now, Brian Hunter is giving back.
Since blood donors helped to save his life, he organized a blood drive, allowing others in need to become survivors too. Hunter's goal was to collect 50 units, just like he received.
They ended up with 60 units.
"Yeah, it's been real satisfying," Hunter said. "For me, I just decided that I had to keep going and give back, you know and luckily, I was able to."
Hunter realizes he got a second chance at life, after it nearly ended by a burglar in his home.