SAN BERNARDINO - Army Spec. Christopher Sullivan survived a suicide bombing while serving a tour in Afghanistan for the U.S. Army last December.
Now his family is on pins and needles again, after a gunman shot Sullivan during his welcome-home party Friday in San Bernardino.
"My son didn't deserve this. He served his country," said his mother, Suzanne Sullivan, a San Bernardino resident.
Sullivan, 22, a 2008 San Bernardino High School graduate who was stationed at Fort Campbell, Ky., was taken to a hospital for treatment of gunshot wounds.
His condition was not known, but family members described him as being in extremely critical condition and paralyzed. Suzanne Sullivan said he suffered two gunshot wounds to his back, which shattered his spine.
It's an incident that has angered his family, especially since Sullivan was exposed to frequent danger in the Middle East, only to face this attack on American soil.
"To come home to this, it's so unfair," his aunt Theresa Marquez said.
Police said friends were throwing a party for Sullivan in the 2800 block of Garner Avenue because Sullivan was home on leave.
"Everybody there was supposed to be his friend or an acquaintance," Marquez said.
Family members said a man at the party got into an argument with Sullivan's brother. When Sullivan intervened, the man pulled out a gun and fired at him.
Sullivan's brother and the other man began arguing over football a little before midnight, San Bernardino Police Lt. Gwendolyn Waters said Saturday.
The gunman, described as a Latino in his 20s, punched Sullivan's brother, Waters said. Sullivan stepped in and the other man pulled a gun from his waistband and fired at least three shots. Two shots hit Sullivan, one in the neck and the other in the buttocks.
Waters said the shooting happened outside in a side yard. Between 30 and 40 people were at the party.
The gunman fled the home before police arrived.
Sullivan had been recovering in Kentucky after a Dec.12, 2010, suicide bombing in Kandahar, which killed five of his fellow soldiers in the 101st Airborne Division. He suffered a cracked collar bone and brain damage.
He was awarded a Purple Heart for his injuries.
"He was lucky he came home," his mother said.
Sullivan played varsity football and was also on the wrestling team at San Bernardino High, said his sister, Crystal Watson.
He was set to complete his enlistment in the Army in April, and was planning to come home to go to college.
"He was so happy to be back. He kept saying, everything was going to be OK," Watson said.
Police have not identified a suspect in the case.
Suzanne Sullivan pleaded for the shooter to surrender.
"I just want him to turn himself in," she said.
Anyone with information on this case may call Detective Michele Mahan, 909-384-5619 or Sgt. Gary Robertson, 909-384-5663, or WeTip, 800-78-CRIME.
Reach Melissa via email or call her at 909-386-3878.
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