Grandfather hit by stray bullet while driving on SR-54 in Wesley Chapel in Pasco County

WESLEY CHAPEL, Fla. - A man was taken to the hospital Thursday after he was hit by a stray bullet while driving on SR-54 near Bruce Lane in Wesley Chapel. 

"I bled a lot," said Walter Santiago, who spent his afternoon at St. Joseph's Hospital undergoing a CAT scan and getting six stitches above his left eye.

According to the Pasco County Sheriff's Office, the bullet flew through an open window, grazed 62-year-old Walter Santiago of Tampa above his left eye, then hit the front window on the passenger side..

"This is very scary," said Doug Tobin, Pasco County Sheriff's Office spokesperson.

"In fact, the individual came very close to having a bullet, almost a deadly bullet, hit him."

The bullet narrowly missed the man's 13-year-old granddaughter.  She was not injured and called 911 for help.

"Just coming down out of the air, it is just a crazy crazy coincidence that it hit him right here in front of our mailbox," said David Ross who works nearby. 

"It is crazy.  I couldn't believe that could happen."

In the seconds leading up to the shooting, neighbors say they heard multiple gunshots.

Automatic gunshot, three quick ones and then one hesitation," recalled Emerito Tolention, a neighbor.

Santiago told ABC Action News, amid the chaos, all he thought about was protecting his granddaughter.

"I got out of the car and just moved away from the car because if they are shooting at me I don't want them to shoot at my granddaughter," Santiago said.

Investigators with the Pasco County Sheriff's Office told ABC Action News this doesn't not appear to be a targeted shooting, but the bullet came from a high-caliber gun which may have been fired from a distance.

Deputies are searching the area to find the person responsible.

"At this point we don't think it was intentional.  But, we still would like to continue with our investigation and find out who did shoot," Tobin said.


William Wright told ABC Action News his car was also shot at while driving on State Road 54 near Curley Road back in June.

He says his 10-year-old daughter was also in the car with him.

"I immediately heard that sound hitting the metal and i knew what it was from hearing that sound before when I was deployed as a Marine," he explained.

The former Marine says he was shocked and in disbelief.  In the rear panel of his car was a bullet hole.  The hole was just inches from where his daughter was sitting.

"I was like there is no way that just happened to me," Wright said.

Wright made his way to a parking lot and called 911 to report the incident.

ABC Action News confirmed the report was made with the Pasco County Sheriff's Office.  However, they say at this time they do not have evidence linking Wright's case to Santiago's case.

So far, no arrests have been made in Wright's case.

"I think that there is someone intentionally driving around up and down State Road 54 shooting at people randomly," he said.

ABC Action News brought Wright's case to the attention of deputies.  They say detectives with the major crimes unit will review both shooting cases Friday to determine if they are connected.

"If there literally is a person out there doing this for their jollies they really need to understand how dangerous it is and that somebody will get hurt," Wright added.
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