A San Bernardino police officer critically wounded during a shooting last month was breathing without the aid of a ventilator as he continued to show signs of improvement, officials said Saturday.
Officer Gabriel Garcia has been hospitalized after being shot in the head on Aug. 22. Garcia’s father, longtime San Bernadino police Captain Ron Garcia, thanked those who have sent their well wishes to his son.
"You have no idea what that's done to uplift the family," Garcia said. "The first night we drove home and saw our neighborhood adorned in blue lights ... it just really means the world to us."
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Dev Gnanadev, Chief of Surgery at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center, said Gabriel Garcia's recovery would be a long process.
"I'm not going to get into any details about his neurological status,"Gnanadev said. "It will take about six months to a year" to see where his health stands, he said.
Police Chief Jarrod Burguan tweeted on Thursday that Garcia’s condition was improving.
“Good day today,” Burguan tweeted. “He is regaining consciousness. Please keep him in your prayers.”
Thee men pleaded not guilty to two counts of attempted murder on a peace officer and possession of an assault rifle, prosecutors said. If convicted, they face life in prison.
The charges stem from a confrontation, during which Garcia was shot and critically hurt when Alex Alvarado, 38, who police said was in a gang, allegedly opened fire on him when he and his rookie partner walked up to a group in a San Bernardino neighborhood, police said.
The unnamed rookie officer killed Alvarado during an ensuing gun battle, police said.
Capt. Ron Garcia, along with other family members, have been at his bedside praying for him to survive since the shooting.