By Jeff Todd
JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4)– Jefferson County Sheriff’s Deputy Jose Marquez is ready to move forward with his life. It’s been two years since a pair of teenagers tried to rob him in an Aurora apartment complex parking lot.
“I noticed two males coming my way and had masks and gloves at which time I said, ‘Well, I’m probably going to end up in a situation.’”
Marquez was shot at 13 times, struck twice, but one of the bullets he shot while returning fire likely saved his life.
It was a one-in-a-billion chance where the bullet went directly down the barrel of his attacker’s gun, jamming it and preventing a likely final fatal blow.
“I think it was just plain luck that night. I think when you’re placed in a position like that where you’re getting shot at you don’t have time to think. It happens in a fraction of a second and I just think I’m very lucky to be alive,” Marquez said. “I just think I’m very lucky to be alive. Somebody was looking after me.”
On Thursday the final sentencing hearing was held for the second attacker. The juvenile will spend six years in Youth Corrections. Last year, Jahlil Meshesha plead guilty to attempted second-degree murder and was sentenced to 20 years.
It’s taken the better part of two years for Marquez to recover from his injuries.
“I took one bullet to the right shoulder, that bullet went down the right side of my body. Hit my fifth rib, collapsed my lung, hit my liver, and hit my diaphragm next to my left lower quadrant. The second bullet from the second shooter came in above that and went in all the way to my back almost hitting my spinal cord. Missed my spinal cord by one –sixteenth of an inch,” Marquez said.
On the night of the attack, Jan. 26, 2016, A nurse at the hospital told Marquez he likely wasn’t going to live.
“She told me I’m not going to make it due to my injuries I sustained that night. She asked me if I had anything I wanted to tell anybody before I pass away,” he said. “I told her, ‘Please tell my girlfriend that I love her.’”
He’s had seven surgeries following the shootout.
Now Marquez is back at work for the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office. He’s hoping to help other wounded law enforcement officers with their recoveries.
Last week, around the anniversary of his own shooting, he reached out to Douglas County Deputy Jeff Pelle to offer words of encouragement.
“I reached out to him because he and I sustained the same injury and I felt it was my duty to reach out to him and say ‘Hey, I’ve been there. And it took me a while to recover.’ I told him hopefully some day we get to meet each other and we can compare scars. And I told him mine was bigger than yours,” Marquez said. “I could tell by the time I was done with the conversation he was very thankful I took the time to tell him about my incident.”
On the night of the shooting Marquez was visiting a girlfriend he had just started dating about two months before. They’re now planning a wedding.
“Oddly, it’s brought our family a lot closer together through tragedy and trauma. We’ve united and bonded a strong love and appreciation for each other, because you never know when you’re going to lose someone,” said Lisa O’Quinn.
“I just think I’m very lucky to be alive. Somebody was looking after me,” said Marquez.
Jeff Todd joined the CBS4 team in 2011 covering the Western Slope in the Mountain Newsroom. Since 2015 he’s been working across the Front Range in the Denver Headquarters. Follow him on Twitter @CBS4Jeff.