2007-09-28 / Community

Rockaway Man Takes Bullets For Friends

Benefit Planned To Help His Recovery
By Brian Magoolaghan

Eric Joseph, 25, who grew up in Rockaway, was shot in San Diego on September 17. His employers, also from this area, are planning a benefit for him next week. Eric Joseph, 25, who grew up in Rockaway, was shot in San Diego on September 17. His employers, also from this area, are planning a benefit for him next week. A young man who grew up in Rockaway and headed to the West Coast to join friends from the peninsula in the nightclub business is being called a hero for breaking up a fight and taking three bullets to protect his friends from a gunman.

Eric Joseph, 25, suffered gunshot wounds to both legs and his pelvic region on September 17 after he and a group of friends broke up a fight in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego, according to police and published reports. Friends said Joseph, whose family lived in Neponsit when he was growing up and remains in this area, was walking along one of the main drags in Pacific Beach, when he and his friends saw a group of eight men viciously attacking one male victim in front of a taco shop.

Joseph and his group broke up the assault and continued along, but one of the eight men caught up to them and yelled, "Who pushed me?" The man pulled a 9mm handgun and put it to the chest of one of Joseph's companions, which prompted Joseph to step in, deflecting the weapon and shielding his other buddies. The gunman opened fire and struck Joseph three times before he fled in a black pickup truck.

Joseph was taken to the hospital, and the San Diego Police PD began searching for their suspect. Witnesses provided a description of the gunman and the police offered the public $1,000 for information leading to an arrest.

San Diego Police arrested David Park, 24, on September 23 and charged him with the shooting. He now faces attempted murder, assault with a firearm and probation violation charges.

Joseph is said to be suffering ups and downs as he continues his recovery in the hospital. Doctors recently decided that hip surgery won't be necessary, but said he still has months of immobility and physical rehabilitation ahead of him.

"He's pretty much off his feet for the next three months, and he's not going to be able to work for six months," said James Brennan, 34, a former Belle Harbor resident who recruited Joseph and others from Rockaway to work for the successful group of San Diego nightclubs operated by EnDev Enterprises. Brennan and Demien Farrell, a former Belle Harbor resident, are two of the managing partners of EnDev, which is now organizing a benefit for Joseph at Stingaree, one of the nightclubs where he worked before the shooting.

"That guy had a gun pointed at [Joseph's] friend's chest," Brennan told The Wave during a cell phone call from California. "The kid would have been dead." The word "hero," Brennan said, is often "overused," but that it is appropriate in this instance. "We're real proud of [Joseph] and what he did."

The October 3 benefit will feature the area's top entertainers and chefs, with the proceeds going towards Joseph's expenses, Brennan said. Donations will be collected and a silent raffle is also being planned. For more information go to www.stingsandiego- .com or to make an online donation, go to www.active.com/donate/ericjoseph.

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