'I'm all they got. They're all I got': Rochester shooting victim - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

'I'm all they got. They're all I got': Rochester shooting victim talks family, recovery

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JaMario Ayers with son Jayden and daughter Jazmine JaMario Ayers with son Jayden and daughter Jazmine
The bullet is lodged just two centimeters from Ayers' heart The bullet is lodged just two centimeters from Ayers' heart
A bullet pierced the handicap parking sign outside Ayers' home A bullet pierced the handicap parking sign outside Ayers' home
Suspected shooter Roderick Malone was quickly arrested Suspected shooter Roderick Malone was quickly arrested
ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -

With medical bills accumulating, extensive therapy expected, and a bullet lodged just two centimeters from his heart -- a Rochester man recovering from a shooting last week shared his story.

The shooting happened on the night of Aug. 29 in the area of 19th Avenue Northwest and 41st Street Northwest

JaMario Ayers, 30, said he had arranged for a 14-year-old babysitter to watch his two young children -- 7-year-old Jazmine (who turns 8 on Friday) and 11-year-old Jayden. The babysitter's mom had just dropped her off outside Ayer's home.

"As I stood here [in the parking lot] talking to my babysitter's mother, I saw at the corner of my eye, directly across, where the gentleman started to shoot at me," Ayers recalled.

Ayers was shot in the chest, with the bullet missing his heart by just two centimeters.

"As I was laying on the ground, the driver of the car, she told me, 'Mario get up, Mario get up! Please get up!' Me hearing her, knowing that, 'Okay, I'm still here,' I had to muster up enough energy to get up off the ground," said Ayers. "The bullets -- he was still shooting repeatedly."

Ayers then dove into the backseat of the car and the three of them -- he, his babysitter, and her mother -- drove away to safety across the street.

"He continued to shoot more, even as we drove off," Ayers said.

Police say the suspected gunman, 35-year-old Roderick Malone (who was Ayers' neighbor) fired 20 shots in all, with several bullets piercing the victims' car. The rest hit a nearby home and garage. Officers quickly arrested Malone at his home after the shooting.

But during the chaos, Ayers could only think about one thing.

"Getting back to my daughter, getting back to my son. If something was going to happen to me, if this was my last breath, then I need to use it to get back to my kids and tell them I love them," said Ayers. "Just the thought of that going through my head constantly, every day -- it makes me humble. It makes me more grateful to be alive."

Ayers did manage to run home to make sure his kids were okay.

"I'm all they got. They're all I got. It's just us three," said Ayers, who is a single father.

His children then did what they could to ensure he was okay too.

"My son, like I give him a lot of credit. He's only 11 but he sprung into action. He called police. He got my daughter back. He called our nearest family member, who's in Florida," Ayers said. "My daughter, she's our little princess... She told me not to go. But it's terrifying for a 7-year-old to see her father laying on the ground, on the doorstep of all places, bleeding. She kept me motivated to just fight through it, dad. How do you tell a 7-year-old, you know? It's tough."

Ayers was rushed to Mayo Clinic Hospital, Saint Marys Campus, where he was initially in critical condition. He said the bullet is currently lodged behind his sternum, just two centimeters from his heart, because doctors determined that removing the bullet would be a risky procedure. The bullet is not affecting the functioning of his heart.

But Ayers said he's in constant pain and isn't as mobile as he once was. He also said he has to undergo occupational therapy over the next six to 12 months.

Ayers said although he does have medical insurance through his employer, it will only cover a small portion of his bills. It will also be months before he can return to full-time work, he said.

Ayers has a GoFundMe page to help pay for his medical care and rehabilitation. To donate, CLICK HERE. Other ways to help the family will be posted here when they become available.

Police say the motive for the shooting remains under investigation.

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