Five months after Ontario police Officer Michael Gracia was shot in the head during the October mass shooting in Las Vegas, he will be participating in the grueling 120-mile Baker to Vegas Run March 17.
Gracia is part of the Ontario Police Department team made up of 20 sworn officers, five alternates and a support crew of 30 volunteers, police officials said in a news release.
Gracia will run the final 20 legs of the relay race, officials said.
“This kid has guts,” said Acting Chief Derek Williams Tuesday. “This is a competitive team so you have to be a runner to make it.”
Gracia, 24, was shot in the head during the mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival in Las Vegas on Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017. His fiancee, Summer Clyburn, 23, tried to cover him and was shot as well, according to Jesse Rivera, a friend of Gracia’s from Bonita High School in La Verne.
Despite his injuries, the couple, who had recently welcomed their daughter into the world, returned to Southern California a few days later to cheers and salutes from fellow law enforcement officials, friends, family and well-wishers.
“We flew up there when we heard that one of our own had been shot,” Williams said. Uncertain of what he would find, Williams recalled seeing the unconscious officer lying in a hospital bed in Las Vegas. He wasn’t sure what kind of prognosis the young Gracia would have.
“When you hear someone was shot in the head, that’s bad,” he said, “but by the end of that day he gave us a thumbs us. Then he was well enough to come home a few days later. It’s been amazing.”
Upon his return in October of last year, Gracia’s mother, Renee Gracia, of Menifee, said he would be treated at Casa Colina in Pomona — the same facility that helped San Bernardino police Officer Gabe Garcia recover when he was shot in the head in August 2014.
The recovering officer earned his spot on the team, said Williams noting anyone who wants to participate need to run a mile in about 8 minutes.
This marks Ontario’s Baker to Vegas team 16th time participating in the annual law enforcement run. The team placed in 202nd place the first time they joined the run, officials said.
“Last year we placed 25th, with an all-time best of 15 hours and 29 minutes!” the statement said.
Their goal this year is to place in the top 20 among 280 the competing teams from all over the world including Belize, Germany and Australia.View Source