KUSA - It's been almost 20 years, but the day Bobby Stephens almost died is far from a distant memory.
"You kind of go numb to a certain point, but you never get over the pain," Stephens said.
Stephens was the only one who survived when then-19-year-old Nathan Dunlap walked into a Chuck E Cheese restaurant and killed four employees. Stephens, who was shot into the face, ran into a nearby apartment and called the police. Later, he identified Dunlap as the killer.
Dunlap had recently been fired from the restaurant, and he was convicted and sentenced to be executed in 1996. In the years since, Stephens has watched the appeals process - the memory of Dunlap's face the night he almost died etched into his mind.
"Not only did [Dunlap] make eye contact with me, he also smiled at me when he shot me," Stephens said. "Throughout my life, I have never seen so much hatred; I've never seen so much anger in a person's eyes."
Stephens wasn't even supposed to be working when hew as in the restaurant that night. He had asked for extra hours and found himself back in the kitchen. That's when he heard the first gunshot.
"The first shot kind of startled me," he said. "The first thought that came to my mind in a kid's restaurant is somebody dropped something."
He initially thought the second shot was someone in the game room popping balloons. And when he heard the third shot, he said Dunlap entered the kitchen area, and smiled as he pulled the trigger once more.
"After he shot me, I remember I was unconscious for a short second. The second I was coming through and Nathan was standing over me, I was waiting for him to finish me off is what I was doing. I kind of figured 'that was it' but I played dead and I didn't move," Stephens said. "When I saw his shoes back past me, I got up and ran."
He ran past the body of co-worker Sylvia Crowell and made a beeline for a nearby apartment.
"I feel really sorry for the gentlemen that answered the door because when he answered the door, I grabbed him by the shirt and pulled him forward and I screamed at the top of my lungs, 'you gotta help me!'" Stephens said.
The almost 20 years since the shooting have helped Stephens cope with what he saw, but he said he still suffers from survivor's guilt about 17 year olds Ben Grant and Colleen O'Connor, 19-year-old Crowell and 50-year-old Margaret Kohlberg: the four other employees who were in the restaurant that night.
"The thing that still brings me to tears...the feeling of hopelessness or helplessness," he said. "There was nothing that I could've done that would've helped those folks."
Last week, a Colorado judge set Aug. 18 through 24 as Dunlap's execution week, causing Dunlap's attorneys to scramble for clemency in the case, claiming that mental illness played a role in the 1993 shooting.
""I came to realize I didn't know that I was under the influence of bipolar. I did things I did at Chuck E Cheese. The things I did at Chuck E Cheese. The things I did leading up to Chuck E Cheese. There's a lot of things I was doing out there. I came to realize bipolar was playing a very big role in what I was doing," Dunlap said on a tape released by his attorneys.
Stephens doesn't believe it's a crime that can be forgiven. He continues to advocate for the death penalty.
"I'm a strong believer in that if you take a person's life unwillingly in such a horrific manner, I feel you should not be allowed to live," Stephens said.
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