Father of only survivor from triple shooting speaks to 10 News | Crime
Lakeland, Florida - Lakeland Regional Medical Center is where 19 year old Esteban Zavala is recovering from at least 3 gunshot wounds. His father tells 10 News that Esteban's doctors expect he will make a full recovery from the physical injuries. The emotional pain of seeing his two best friends gunned down on the other hand, Esteban's dad says that is in God's hands.
"They wanted to make something of their lives and used their education to do that," says Estaban Zavala's father, Fernando Zavala.
19-year-old college students Christian Rodriguez, Joe Palacios and Esteban Zavala grew up together, and spent their last moments together.
Zavala said, "I want to be clear these were very good boys, very good boys. They were always helping others in the community."
Esteban Zavala managed to escape the apartment of 32-year-old Joshua Davis on Tuesday night. Esteban left behind a trail of blood as he ran out of the apartment and down the steps onto the street. His father says he suffered three gunshot wounds including one to his right thigh, one through his cheek and another along the top of his head.
"The bullet came in thru here (side of his right cheek) came out on this side (left temple area) and another wound on top of his head," describes Zavala. Zavala says Esteban's surgery for his head wound went well and his son is in stable condition.
Winter Haven police said Davis confessed to the shooting spree. The police chief calls Davis a cold blooded killer.
"May God forgive him for what he has done. I have nothing against him for what he has done. Justice is justice and justice must be served somehow. God has his justice and here on earth, there is justice too -- it's in their hands," says Zavala.
Zavala said "I hold no resentment towards him," when speaking of Davis.
Zavala said his family learned of the shooting around 3 a.m. Wednesday morning shortly after he and another parent reported the boys missing to police. He said, "If we felt bad, I can't imagine how the other families felt with the loss of their sons." Zavala said his son's good physical condition may have given him the strength to get away. Esteban works out often according to his father, who said Esteban runs, boxes and wrestles.
Winter Haven police said Davis told them he ran out of bullets, and after beating Esteban with the barrel of the gun he went to the kitchen to grab a knife to "finish off" Esteban. It is at that moment police say Esteban escaped.
Zavala said his son spoke of the shooting to detectives, but not to family members.
Zavala said Esteban and Davis worked together at the Winter Haven McDonalds on 6th Street. "He spoke about a lot of co-workers but nothing that stood out," he added.
Esteban's family is grateful to the community for their support and prayers. He said, "Faith, more than anything, is our strength as a family and the strength from all of the people supporting us has kept us strong."
Zavala said while in the hospital, he reminded his son of who he is and told him to not let this incident change him. He said, "As his father I've always told him he is an intelligent person, athletic and always very positive and very giving to the community. I tell him not to change. He's always been a very strong person and that strength he still has inside and never let it go. He tells me "Yes!"
Even now from his hospital bed, Esteban's father said his son talks about his future. Esteban had been finishing up his second year at Polk State College and had plans to transfer to USF. While at USF, he wants to major in a degree using his math skills, possibly engineering. Esteban's father said that he's confident his son will fulfill his dreams, it will just take a little bit longer.