20-year-Old EMT Fights for Life After Being Shot in Head While Responding to Call: 'Pure Heart'
Jacob “Jake” Dindinger, 20, had been working as an EMT for four months before he was shot in the head while responding to a call
Jacob "Jake" Dindinger had only been working as an EMT with American Medical Response for four months when the unthinkable happened.
As the 20-year-old from Arizona waited in his ambulance at the scene of a house fire on July 18, a man in an SUV approached the vehicle and opened fire, KVOA reported. Both Dindinger and another EMT were hit by gunfire, and the man drove away before returning and continuing to shoot at bystanders.
A second EMT, a 22-year-old woman, was shot in the chest and arm, but was listed in stable condition following the incident, authorities said during a press conference on July 19.
A neighbor, identified by police as 44-year-old Cory Saunders, was killed in the shooting. Dindinger was shot in the head, arm, chest and neck, according to a GoFundMe campaign, and has been hospitalized ever since. Today, he continues to fight for his life.
"He has a pure heart and smile that never goes unnoticed, as it brightens every room he walks into," the donation page said of Dindinger, who grew up in Texas for much of his life. "His sharp wit and sense of humor never fails to make those around him laugh."
Dindinger's dream was to become a firefighter, and had been driven by "selflessness and determination," the campaign's organizers wrote.
"We desperately hope that Jake will be able to continue pursuing his goals; however, the realities of his condition are dire," they said. "Should he recover, the process will be long and arduous. His life and the lives of his loved ones will be forever changed as they face some very daunting prospects ahead. Jake is a strong, young man, but he is still fighting for his life."
The donation page has raised more than $155,000 as of Thursday afternoon.
In an interview with KTSM, Dindinger's aunt, Cindy Mendoza, said her nephew will need years of rehabilitation if he survives. He has also lost his eyesight.
"All he wanted to do was help others. Whether it was family, friends, strangers, animals, that was just his character. When he started doing this, he knew right away this was his passion," she told the outlet. "He also has a brother who is a firefighter in Los Angeles and wanted to follow his brother's footsteps."
"That was a big passion for him to do is to do what his brother was doing as well," she added.
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On Twitter, Arizona Police Chief Chris Magnus paid tribute to Dindinger in a post that decried gun violence.
"Thinking about Jacob Dindinger, 20-year-old EMT here in Tucson who was ambushed, shot in the head, and remains in very critical condition," he wrote. "That was me at 20. Just starting a career. And he is just one of far too many young people losing their life to gun violence. Senseless."