In a coma and on a respirator, South Lake Tahoe resident Eric Domingo made it through the crucial first 24 hours in the hospital after being shot in the face Saturday morning.
The single bullet from a 9 mm semiautomatic pistol hit the 2005 South Tahoe High School graduate below the eye and ricocheted in his head before exiting through the back of his neck, his family told the Tribune on Sunday.
Early Saturday evening, doctors told the family that it didn't appear as though the bullet pierced the brain. They were relieved.
But later Saturday night, a surgeon at Renown Medical Center in Reno told the family that after reviewing an MRI, it appeared the brain stem had been damaged, and the possibility exists that Domingo suffered debilitating injuries.
"I'm a Christian, and I know in my heart he will recover," his mother, Judy Domingo, said Sunday morning. "I have to have some kind of faith that God is not ready for my son yet; he's not ready to take him. He's too young. He's a fighter."
Also factored into Eric Domingo's condition was an extreme loss of blood. Pints of blood were given to him in a transfusion because the bullet also had damaged a major artery, possibly severing it, family members said.
What led to the shooting shortly before 8 a.m. Saturday remained under investigation Sunday. The shooting took place at a home on Tamarack Avenue, where Domingo and his alleged assailant were guests, police said.
A crime unit from the El Dorado County Sheriff's Office was dispatched to the scene and was conducting the investigation alongside South Lake Tahoe police.
What is known is that Casey Curcie-Crummett, 20, of South Lake Tahoe was arrested on suspicion of assault with a firearm in connection with Domingo's shooting. He was released on $30,000 bail, jail officials said.
Friends at the scene of the shooting on Tamarack Avenue took Domingo to the South Lake Tahoe Fire Station at Ski Run Boulevard and Pioneer Trail after he was shot.
As police arrived, they were told by the friends who delivered Domingo to the fire department that the shooting was "accidental."
Police had not yet determined whether or not they considered the shooting accidental.
"We're still moving forward on our investigation. There are some details that are not confirmed," South Lake Tahoe Police Lt. Martin Hale said Saturday.
The family of Curcie-Crummett, contacted by the Tribune on Sunday, declined to comment on the matter after being advised by an attorney.
Meanwhile, word has spread around the community about Domingo's condition, especially among his friends. Domingo had played football at STHS. He was considered an all-star and made quite a name for himself in athletics, according to his family.
Since graduating, Domingo has worked in South Lake Tahoe, at Meeks and as of late as a house painter. His mother described him as shy, quiet, meticulous and dapper. You never would see a hair out of place on his head, she said.
"He's always been like that. He keeps himself up. He's athletic and is always very nice to people. That's why I don't understand why this had to happen. He's a good kid," she said.
Domingo's sister, Heather Gleaton, said her brother doesn't have medical insurance and that the family is working to put some kind of bank account fund into action. She said calls from friends, family and members of the STHS football team keep coming to the family.
"You see this stuff on TV and think it would never happen to your family," his sister said. "I know he will pull through. I know he will," she said.