UPLAND (CBSLA) — An Inland Empire police officer who was shot in the head during last year’s massacre at an outdoor music festival in Las Vegas is on the road to recovery, and a special surprise gift might help him get there faster.
Ontario police officer Michael Gracia was caught off guard at his grandmother’s Upland house Thursday when he found his fellow cops inside. He thought they were there to celebrate his successful completion of the annual Baker to Vegas law enforcement race, a feat that seemed unimaginable after his serious injuries incurred during the 2017 Las Vegas shooting.
Instead, he was greeted by family and a blue-and-khaki-donned member of the so-called Helpful SoCal Honda Dealers, who gave him the keys to a brand new Honda sedan.
Gracia’s cousin nominated the couple.
“Michael just started driving recently, and it will give him some freedom to go to and from speech therapy appointments on his own without having to rely on someone else,” said Skyler Harrison. “I think it’s gonna be very important for them.”
Gracia told CBS2 News he never expected anything like this. “It’s the world to me,” said Gracia. “It’s been a hard, long road — a long road ahead of me. So it’s everything to me.”
Gracia and his fiancée Summer were shot by gunman Stephen Paddock during his deadly rampage from a Vegas hotel room overlooking a country music festival on October 1, 2017. Fifty-eight people were killed that night.
Gracia’s fellow officers have been impressed with his drive to get better so he can get back on the force.
“When people put this badge on, it changes their lives, and he wants to continue to change lives out there in a positive way, so we’re gonna support him and welcome him back,” Ontario Police Deputy Chief Derek Williams told CBS2.
Aside from the new wheels, Gracia and his fiancée said their 9-month-old baby is a pretty big motivator to get better.