DEERFIELD BEACH (CBS4) – A Marine who was trying to sell a piece of jewelry on Craigslist and was shot multiple times by a supposed buyer is telling his harrowing story of survival.
Lt. Col. Karl Trenker spoke to reporters Friday at North Broward Medical Center in Deerfield Beach where he is recovering from gunshot wounds to his chest, abdomen, shoulder and the back of his head.
After serving in combat zones, Trenker is no stranger to gunfire. But he said he did not expect it in Deerfield Beach.
“I said I can’t believe this,” Trenker told reporters. “I go to Iraq and Afghanistan multiple times and I haven’t been shot or blown up and I’m here at home in Florida and here I am riding away in an ambulance with a bunch of gunshot wounds.”
Trenker was trying to sell a necklace for his fiance to a man they met through a Craigslist ad. The deal was supposed to go down in a Deerfield Beach apartment complex Wednesday afternoon.
Trenker said the thief just wanted to get his hands on the jewelry.
“He picked (the necklace) up, put it in his hands and said that feels real and he took off running,” Trenker recalled. “I was like, ‘Really?’”
Trenker gave chase but didn’t go far because his four kids were in his car. Trenker said he drove around the complex and came upon the thief and another man. Broward Sheriff’s investigators identified the men as Jeff Steele and James Flounory.
“I got out of the truck and said, ‘Hey, I’m gonna call the police and we’re gonna have police down here so why don’t we put the necklace down and walk away?’” he said.
The accused thieves took off and Trenker followed.
“When somebody steals something from you, you want to get it back and I did not perceive any danger,” Trenker said.
But then danger showed up. Detectives say Steele started shooting and struck Trenker several times. Trenker plugged his wounds with his fingers and went back to his kids. A resident heard the commotion and called 911.
Trenker waited for deputies and paramedics and called his fiance.
“It’s amazing to me how this guy had been shot this many times.” Tanya Saiz said. “He’s superman.”
Saiz had extra reason to be thankful. She said she was supposed to be the one dropping off the necklace.
“He saved my life,” she said. “Those guys were expecting me to be there and not him.”
Steele and Flounory are charged with attempted murder and robbery with a firearm. Both men are being held without bail in Broward County. A third suspect — Andre Gayle — is charged in connection with the gun used in the shooting.
Trenker expects to make a full recovery although his doctor says he will have to live with a bullet lodged in his pelvis.