EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — A 20-year-old EMT from Tucson is currently fighting for his life after being shot in the head Sunday while waiting to assist with a medical call.
Jacob Dindinger, who grew up in El Paso, Texas is hospitalized and in extreme critical condition after being shot four times, his family said.
The Tucson Police Department Chief Chris Magnus confirmed on Twitter that Dindinger was ambushed.
Dindinger and his EMT partner were staged at a park in Tucson and waiting for an emergency call before the attack. Both EMTs were shot and both remain in critical condition. Police identified the alleged gunman as 35-year-old Leslie Scarlett.
Scarlett allegedly drove off and stopped where Tucson firefighters were battling a structure fire. Police say Scarlett encountered and shot a neighbor who was flagging crews to the fire. The neighbor, identified as 44-year-old Cory Saunders, died at the scene. A person who was in the burning building died as a result of the fire, police said.
Scarlett allegedly shot at fire crews and hit a fire captain in the arm.
Scarlett drove off and allegedly rammed his vehicle into a police unit that was responding to the fire.
Police said Scarlett got out of his vehicle and began shooting at the officer. Officer Danny Leon, an 8-year-veteran of the Tucson Police Department returned fire and struck Scarlett. Scarlett was taken to Banner University Medical Center with life-threatening injuries.
Dindinger’s aunt Cindy Mendoza spoke with KTSM 9 News and said that he was an EMT for only four months. His goal was to eventually become a firefighter.
“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,” Mendoza said. “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.”
Dindinger attended Western Hills Elementary school in El Paso. After moving to Tuscon, he often visited El Paso during his breaks.
The family has received support from all over the country. That includes EMS agencies from New Orleans, California, New York, and Florida. Local restaurants in Tucson have also shown support by donating food to the family.
Mendoza said that if Dindinger survives his severe injuries, he will need years of rehabilitation. The family was also told that he has lost his eyesight and will have many obstacles to overcome in recovery.
“I’ve told him just how important his 20 years in this world have impacted so many people. I’ve told him to just to keep fighting because he’s a light that we don’t want to lose. This world needs it right now. We need a bright light like Jacob,” Mendoza said.
A GoFundMe page has been launched to help raise money to cover Dindinger’s medical expenses, recovery, and rehabilitation.
The family is asking for support and prayers moving forward as Dindinger battles his way to recovery.
Scarlett will be charged when he is released from the hospital.