ONTARIO (CBSLA) — Shot in the head during the Las Vegas massacre, 51 weeks later an Ontario police officer is finally back on the job.
Michael Gracia returned to work just one week before the one-year anniversary of that mass shooting that nearly killed him.
It has been an emotional and frustrating year for the police officer who has been working incredibly hard to finally get back to work.
“It’s a little nerve-racking because of my speech but I’m working on that,” said Gracia.
It’s a miracle the 25-year-old police officer is helping people behind the counter at Ontario police headquarters.
Last October he was shot in the head while off duty at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas.
“I was telling people to get down. Gunshots. From there I can’t remember,” said Gracia.
The impact injured his brain. The massacre left 59 people dead and hundreds more wounded.
He woke up in the hospital grateful to be alive but unable to speak.
“I was like a baby trying to talk again,” said Gracia. “I learned my ABCs again.”
It was a painstaking process learning to pronounce sounds again. Then words and eventually sentences.
“That was my goal is to get better so I can take care of my daughter and fiance,” said Gracia.
And just a week shy of one year later he’s recovered so well he was cleared to get back to work.
“There was never a doubt in his mind what he was going to do. He was going to come back to work,” said Deputy Chief Michael Lorenz, Ontario PD.
He plans on making his way back to patrol but for now he’s serving the community in-house as he heals.
“He’s not only helped the community but he’s also working on his own therapy as well,” said Lorenz. “He’s amazing. He’s an amazing officer. Ontario PD is very lucky to have him.