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DENVER - A Colorado man may spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair after a stray bullet severely damaged his spinal cord. Investigators have no clue where the bullet came from.

In late June, Tomas Aguilar, 28, was barbecuing at his home near Federal Boulevard and 6th Avenue when he suddenly collapsed.

"I thought it was a firecracker," Aguilar said. "But then when I woke up at the hospital, they told me it was a stray bullet."

The bullet entered Aguilar's neck and passed through his spine, causing paralysis from his chest down.

Denver Police searched around Aguilar's neighborhood, but could not locate the source of the bullet. Police are now turning to the public's help, hoping a tip will come in.

"I have to keep pushing forward," Aguilar said from his room at Denver Health. "I want to be independent. Everything is different than it used to be."

Dr. Michael Blei, who has been helping Aguilar recover at Denver Health, says it is likely Aguilar will spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair.

"You never have a crystal ball," Dr. Blei said. "There is still some hope. You don't know for sure if there's going to be any recovery at all."

Dr. Blei and other hospital staff remarked on Aguilar's positive attitude about the ordeal.

"And he's an amazing person to put it behind him and say, 'Life goes on,'" Dr. Blei said. "Tomas doesn't know how much he helps the rest of the people here dealing with other injuries."

If you have any tips about this case you can call Metro Denver Crime Stoppers at (720) 913-STOP (7867).

A fund to help Aguilar has also been set up at Chase Bank under "Tomas Aguilar."

Have a comment or tip for investigative reporter Jeremy Jojola? Call him at 303-871-1425 or e-mail him
jeremy.jojola@9news.com

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