Man shot in head trying to defend woman, baby in California restaurant

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. – As he lies in a hospital bed, unconscious in a medically induced coma, Elias Garibay is hailed as a hero.

“First and foremost, I’m proud of him,” Garibay’s son, Benjamin Lozano told KTXL. “He did what he thought was right and that means everything to me.”

Lozano said his father was shot in the head while trying to protect a woman and her infant from an abusive man.

It happened Friday evening when the 45-year-old went to Tortilleria Flores in Yuba City to pick up some food for dinner.

“There was a woman who ran into the restaurant seeking refuge from an abusive boyfriend, her and her young child. The boyfriend came in,” Lozano said. “My father, hearing what was going on, kind of stepped in front of the guy and said, ‘Let’s get out of here, man. Don’t be here for this.’ They had a small fight outside and the gentleman ran off.”

But investigators said the man came back shortly after – this time with a gun.

“Fired the weapon three times inside of the restaurant and the last bullet hit my father in the head,” Lozano said.

The California Highway Patrol took 35-year-old Victor Esquivel into custody early Saturday morning in Newhall. They believe he was fleeing to Mexico.

“That’s kind of the most important thing to us that he’s not out there hurting anybody else or causing any other family the pain that we’re going through,” Megan Lozano, Garibay’s daughter-in-law, told KTXL.

They’re now praying the justice system will keep Esquivel behind bars and that Garibay will recover.

“I haven’t had much time with him and seeing that this may be the last time, it’s just kind of getting all of those emotions together,” Lozano said.

As an active duty military member stationed in Seattle, Lozano hasn’t been able to see his father in years. He said he’s dreaming of just one more chance to say what’s important.

“To tell him I love him,” he said.

Garibay’s family has started a GoFundMe page to help with medical expenses.

Police are still investigating the circumstances of the shooting.

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