Fire captain recalls being shot in head while responding to fire during LA riots

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A Los Angeles firefighter was hit by gunfire while responding to one of many fires set during the L.A. riots 25 years ago. Now, the firefighter shares his story.

The fact that L.A. Fire Capt. Scott Miller is alive today is somewhat of a miracle. On April 29, 1992, he was shot in the face during the first night of the riots.

"We could see just multiple columns of smoke and buildings on fire," Inspector Paul Jordan said.

Jordan was also on board ladder truck 35 that night, headed down Western Boulevard when a car pulled up alongside them. Miller was behind the wheel. He said he remembers hearing a bang and seeing a flash.

"I fell forward onto the steering wheel, and at that point my mental process was just relax, relax, because that's the only way you'll survive," he said.

Miller remained conscious, but his left arm and leg were paralyzed instantly. His crew rushed the then 32-year-old to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

At the time, he couldn't speak. Doctors didn't think he would ever walk again, much less make a full recovery.

Miller said he did it with his wife by his side.

"She spent the next two weeks living in that hospital room with me," he said.

Now as the 25-year anniversary of the riots nears, Fire Chief Ralph Terrazas said Miller teaches everyone not to give up.

Miller eventually returned to the department where he's worked a part-time schedule ever since. He spends more time with his family and a grandchild he would have never met.

"When I talk about it, I don't have emotion until I start talking about my family. That's who I was thinking about from the time I woke up in the hospital," he said.
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