Mother of shooting victim with autism speaks

February 24, 2013 9:30:11 PM PST
The family of a man with autism, who was shot by an off-duty police officer in Camden, spoke only to Action News.

21-year-old Luis Medina is home and enjoying a favorite meal after a two-night stay at Cooper University Hospital.

"He's thinking it's probably a big boo-boo," said Susana Medina, mother.

On Friday afternoon, police say he was shot in the arm by his long-time neighbor, an off-duty Camden City Police officer, who thought Medina was an intruder.

Investigators say the young man, who is non-verbal with severe autism, darted across the street and repeatedly banged on the door.

His 28-year-old caretaker couldn't stop him and was also shot. The caretaker remains hospitalized in critical condition.

"I'll dart across the street, you chase me, it's like a game. It happened a couple of times," said Susana.

In an exclusive interview, Medina's mom, Susana, says her son is playful, harmless and well known on the block.

"I was in shock, we are all in shock," she said.

She also says she's been close friends with the officer and his wife for several years.

Susana was not home at the time of the shooting and won't speculate on what happened.

"This is the community he knows and loves, I feel he's safe here because they know my son," said Susana.

Another Camden officer was guarding the scene Sunday. He told Action News the off-duty officer, who lives on the opposite side of the street, does not wish to comment on the shooting.

Fortunately, Medina will be okay but it's little consolation to a family broken-hearted to hear that his caretaker is in bad shape.

"My caregiver to me was like a son too, he's part of the family, has keys to my house, takes care of my son," said Susana.

She also added that lessons can be learned from this incident and she is curious to find out more details surrounding the circumstances.

Meanwhile the Camden County Prosecutor's Office says the officer will be placed on administrative leave as part of protocol.