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lucky to be alive

Texas state representative survives being shot by stray bullet

A stray bullet narrowly missed piercing the brain of a Texas state representative celebrating New Year's Eve.

Shortly after midnight, Armando Martinez, a Democrat representing District 39, was outside a friend's house in Weslaco, Texas, preparing to set off a few fireworks with other partygoers. His wife gave him a kiss to ring in the new year, and as she pulled away, the bullet entered the back of his head. "I felt like I got hit by a sledgehammer," he told NBC Latino Monday. His wife saw there was a hole in his head, and they concluded he had been shot; after a 45-minute procedure at a local hospital, a .223 caliber bullet was removed from his head.

"I was extremely lucky," Martinez said. "My surgeons said if it went a couple more millimeters deep, I may not have been able to have this conversation right now." Throughout the night, the seven-term representative heard celebratory gunshots go off, and he hopes this is a wakeup call to the dangers of firing guns in the air. The Hidalgo County Sheriff's Office is trying to find where the bullet came from; it's possible it could have come from someone firing a gun into the air two blocks away. Martinez is grateful that his wife and the children at the party are safe. "I do believe there is a silver lining that nobody else got seriously hurt," he said.