Pedro Aguilar Recovering Slowly After Getting Shot During Food Delivery; GoFundMe Launched

Pedro Aguilar before the shooting.

By Amelia Roth-Dishy

Pedro Aguilar, an employee of the West Side Campaign Against Hunger, is navigating a new and devastating normal after he was severely injured in a drive-by shooting while delivering food to community members.

“It’s too much,” Daisy Condado, Pedro’s wife, said. “When I saw him in the hospital, it was like it wasn’t him anymore.”

West Side Campaign Against Hunger, one of the city’s largest emergency food relief operations, has been working at the frontlines of the pandemic, serving thousands of food-insecure New Yorkers. Pedro started working for WSCAH as a mobile delivery driver, a job he loves, in April of this past year and had previously held a similar position at City Harvest.

“He’s all over the city making sure our community groups get the food they need,” Greg Silverman, the Executive Director of WSCAH, said. “He’s very diligent and focused in that work. He has a lot of great knowledge and insights and whenever we have a few minutes, he’s always pulling me aside to tell me some ideas of how he thinks we could do a better job to support the community through our distribution,” he added.

“He’s missed right now.”

Pedro’s truck.

Pedro started with WSCAH on April 19th. His wife Daisy can remember the exact date because Pedro’s father passed away from COVID-19 on April 22nd, three days later. It’s been an unfathomably difficult year for the family.

Despite his injuries, Pedro is warm and soft-spoken on the phone. When his wife Daisy passes him the receiver, he introduces himself to me— “my name is Pedro!” I ask him how he’s doing and he laughs politely at my ludicrous question. “With a little pain,” he says ruefully, “but it’s okay.”

The shots were fired outside the Amsterdam Houses building at 216 West 64th Street just before noon on Friday, December 11, and sent one other person to the hospital. “The victim seems to have been an innocent bystander caught between gunfire. There was a verbal dispute between two individuals,” an NYPD spokesperson recently told the Rag. They confirm that the investigation is ongoing and no arrests have been made.

Recovery has been difficult.

That day, Pedro and a coworker set out to deliver groceries for distribution through a tenant group in the Amsterdam Houses complex. They parked their truck and surveyed the scene before dropping off four pallets of food with volunteers. Pedro was walking back to the WSCAH vehicle, pushing a hand truck, when he heard two shots. He remembers in vivid, slow-motion detail the traumatic seconds that followed.

“I feel one of the shots right in my back. When I feel this my legs stop working. I turn my head straight and see my jacket fluff, I see the bullet went out. My legs don’t respond to me, so I get on my knees and I knew that I was gonna fall down, so I lay down on the sidewalk,” he recounts.

He tried to control his thoughts, telling himself that everything was going to be fine.

“But at the same time,” he says, “I’m asking God. I say God, is this the time to go with you right now? I’m ready for now. But please God, give me my second chance. I wanna see my girls growing up. And I just close my eyes and I see God and I see my dad. My father says, ‘Don’t worry, it’s not your time, everything is gonna be fine,’” he says, audibly choked up. “I say okay.”

Daisy will never forget the day’s events. She called Pedro at 1 p.m. and he didn’t answer— which is strange, she says, because he always picks up the phone. But she didn’t worry too much until one of Pedro’s friends from City Harvest texted her asking how Pedro was doing. The information came in fits and spurts. When she finally got a phone call from a doctor, who told her that they just put tubes in Pedro’s ribs so they could drain the blood from his lungs, she was shocked. “I was like, what are you talking about? What are you saying? And she’s like, ‘Oh, they didn’t tell you. Your husband got shot.’ Something in my body went from like 1 to 100 and then back.”

“He was just so tired.”

She made it to the hospital by 5 p.m. and was devastated to see how exhausted he looked. Pedro, ever upbeat, told her to go home and get some sleep. He would be okay, he said. He was just so tired.

Daisy called her boss at the bagel shop where she works. “I said, I don’t think I’m coming back to work for a while,” she recalls, “Because something happened.”

She called her 21-year-old son, who was at work, and her 19-year-old daughter. She didn’t want to tell her two younger daughters about Pedro’s condition and only did so two days later because they kept asking where their dad was.

The bullet entered in the middle of Pedro’s back and exited next to his shoulder, just barely missing the heart and the spine. Pedro remained in the hospital until December 18 while doctors watched for fluid in his lungs, which had been nicked by the bullet.

Now, Pedro needs Daisy’s help to get out of bed, lie down, take a shower, or go to the bathroom. Three days after being discharged, Pedro felt a sharp pain in his leg that hasn’t fully gone away. Sometimes it keeps him up all night. Daisy must also keep an eye on their two youngest daughters, ages 11 and 5, and make sure they’re showing up on time for remote classes.

The Aguilar Family.

Daisy has organized a GoFundMe for the family to help defray the mounting bills — rent, electric, gas, phone, not to mention unforeseen transportation and childcare expenses — while Pedro cannot work and she is staying home to care for him. The fundraiser has received $11,782 in donations as of writing. WSCAH, in accordance with their purview, has provided the family with groceries throughout these past weeks, for which Pedro and Daisy are extremely grateful. Pedro’s colleagues and supervisors call him all the time to see how he’s doing. “The company,” he says, “they respond the way they’re supposed to respond. I just wanna say thank you because they support me in every way.”

The food distribution that day was in conjunction with the office of Congressman Jerry Nadler. According to Silverman, his staff has been reaching out to check in on Pedro, as have many other nonprofits and government officials in their network of partners.

“For us as frontline emergency feeding workers, it’s been an incredibly tough year for all our team and for all of the frontline workers across the city, state, country and the planet,” Greg Silverman said. “But this was sort of a most tragic way to end the year. It really was kind of a body blow.”

Doctors told Pedro to rest completely for eight weeks, at which point he’ll begin physical therapy for his shoulder and can start thinking about returning to driving. Pedro is optimistic by nature, but the pain— both physical and mental — weighs deeply on him.

“After that day, nothing is the same,” Pedro says. “I feel like they killed some part of me inside. Because I was a happy guy, always making jokes, always laughing, but now…” he pauses in grief, unable to finish the sentence. “But it’s life,” he goes on. “We are humans. I just wanna know the guy who did the shooting, I just wanna tell him that I forgive him. That I don’t know why he did it, but I forgive him.”

The GoFundMe to support Pedro, Daisy, and their four children can be found here.

NEWS | 10 comments | permalink
    1. Annie says:

      I hope our generous UWS community donates to GoFundMe to support Pedro and his family. This was a horrible tragedy.

    2. UWSer says:

      I don’t normally donate to GoFundMe’s since there are so many, but this one touched me. I wish all the best to Pedro and his family (plus I donated!).

    3. Peddie J says:

      Thank you, WSR & Amelia, for sharing Pedro’s story. May his body and spirit fully recover from this senseless shooting.

    4. Balebusta says:

      I hope that everyone who has been concerned about the neighborhood and supportive of community services/supports being implemented while naysaying there has been an increase in crime, reaches deep into their wallets to help this poor man. This is a terribly traumatic event & the effect on his family substantial. I will be donating to the GoFundMe today.

    5. Ted says:

      Pedro and Daisy

      Your strength brings me to tears. I wish you a speedy recovery. Who can know why bad things happen to the best people. I know from my own life that a badly damaged body has a great ability to heal. I wish you godspeed and a swift return to health

    6. Joseph Friedman says:

      This hard working man deserve all of our support.

    7. fellow westsider says:

      Another thank you to WSR and Amelia for sharing news of Pedro and his family’s hardship. Appreciate the GoFundMe link and I have also contributed to the family’s campaign. Keeping the family in my thoughts and wishing them all well.

    8. Catherine Evans says:

      I’ve volunteered at WSCAH and the work they do is phenomenal. I will most certainly donate to this GO FUND ME and I hope in light of Biden’s inspirational inauguration, many will contribute as well. My thoughts go out to Pedro and am amazed by his desire to forgive his shooter. Let’s all lend a hand.

    9. Robert Bove says:

      I can only hope and pray for your speedy recovery at this time. God has given you a 2nd chance at life. I walk in that area many days during the week and you never know when you leave home if you will return. This is a wake up call for all of us and we need stronger gun laws. I will be relentless in writing to my elected officials to do more on this matter. Get well soon as your family needs you whole again.
      Warmest Regards
      Robert