Craigslist Marine Shot

Craigslist Marine Shot, One bullet went through his belly and lodged in his pelvis, while a second sliced through his chest and out his shoulder. Yet another grazed the back of his skull.

Shot and wounded while chasing thieves on foot, Lt. Col. Karl Trenker said he did what he had been trained to do as a 29-year veteran of the U.S. Marines with tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Running with bullet holes wasn’t working out well, so I plugged them up with my fingers,” Trenker said Friday.

Trenker, 48, was not injured on the battlefield, but in an apartment complex parking lot in Deerfield Beach where he had gone to sell a necklace to a Craigslist buyer-turned-robber. Father and stepfather to seven children, Trenker was released Friday from North Broward Medical Center, nine days after the shooting.

Emergency physician Dr. Igor Nichiporenko, who removed part of Trenker’s bowel and left a bullet in his pelvis, attributed the fact that Trenker is alive to his military training and lifestyle.

“When you hear someone is coming in with multiple gunshot wounds, you are concerned,” Nichiporenko said. “He was in bad shape.”

Trenker spoke several hours after leaving the hospital. He said he feels pain where a 10-inch surgery wound now crosses his stomach area. He walks with a slight limp, but that is expected to fade.

He recounted the moments leading up to the shooting, and described the actions that led his fiancee and doctor to refer to him as “Superman.”

On Dec. 21, Trenker and four of his children — ages 7, 8, 9 and 12 — drove from their home in Miramar to the Tivoli Gardens apartments in Deerfield Beach to sell an 18-inch gold necklace to a man who had identified himself as Galven.

Trenker’s fiancee, Tonya Saiz, had put an advertisement on Craigslist several days earlier, hoping to sell the jewelry to raise some extra holiday money. But when, at the last minute, she could not show up for the sale, Trenker volunteered to go.

The transaction was scheduled for 3:30 p.m. in the apartment complex’s parking lot. Trenker said there were no immediate signs that the deal was a setup. His children waited inside his white Chevy Avalanche. “It looked like some guy who wanted to buy a necklace,” he said.

According to Trenker, the men who met him spoke briefly about the necklace. One suddenly snatched it and ran. Trenker gave chase. The men ran over a footbridge and into some brush. One of the supposed necklace buyers turned and fired 10 shots, emptying a .22-caliber pistol.

The first bullet he took to the chest made Trenker angry and more determined to run harder, he said. But “when I felt the second shot, I re-evaluated that decision and figured I needed to stay alive,” he said. “My first thought was to run back and make sure my children were safe. I was bleeding, so I improvised and stuck my fingers in the bullet holes.”

A witness, heard in a recorded 911 call, reassured Trenker that authorities were on the way. But the Marine, his fingers plugging his wounds, said he returned to his vehicle to check on his kids. They were OK.

Deputies later arrested Jeff Steele and James Flounory, both 20, and charged each with attempted murder and robbery with a firearm. A third suspect, Andre Gayle, 20, is accused of concealing the firearm after the shooting. Steele and Flounory live in Deerfield Beach. Gayle’s hometown was not immediately available.

Trenker, who has served in Iraq and Afghanistan training those countries’ militaries, said he’s never been shot at overseas. He was disappointed to have it happen at home.

“You hear about all the crime on the news, but it doesn’t seem real until it happens to you,” he said.

Trenker said Friday his immediate plan was to finally have a holiday meal. The family then plans on a long vacation so he can fully recover. Trenker, who is on active duty, plans to return to work at the U.S. Southern Command, based in Miami-Dade County, where he assists in drug busts in Central America.

When asked Friday whether he would ever run after a gunman again, Trenker said he would.
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