Shooting victim: "I forgive that young man, I've prayed for him"

Recent robberies in East Austin are becoming more violent. One victim was shot in the face last week. He survived and is sharing his story with FOX 7.

James Bushner, 69, was robbed at gunpoint. Within moments, he was shot. The bullet going straight through his right cheek.

Bushner says it wasn't luck that kept him alive, it was God. Now he's hoping the robbers will also find faith. Instead of towering in fear, Bushner says he was ready to take down the robbers.

"I'm not going to stand here and let him just shoot me. Does that make me brave? I was just fighting for my life. Simple as that," said Bushner.

Bushner has been with Austin Water Utility for 20 years. Last Tuesday, he was removing a meter off Manor Road in East Austin, when Bushner says he was approached by two black men with ski masks demanding money.

Before he knew it, he was being held at gunpoint.

"When I looked up again, he was standing there. I saw his mask and his mouth and I looked down, he had that gun in my face. He said, 'if you don't give me your wallet or your money, I'm going to kill you,'" said Bushner.

He was then shot, Bushner recalls.

"When he walked toward me, I was going to take a step forward. He shot me just like that. I turned my head and then I turned back around. I looked him straight in the eye," Bushner said.

That's when both suspects ran off. Bushner was taken to UMC Brackenridge where they took several X-rays and stitched up his cheek.

"I seem like I'm in good spirits but I've still got some reservations. I'm not going to sit here and lie to you. They want me to go to some counseling to see how I'm handling it," said Bushner.

Austin Police believe the suspects in this case are linked to four other robberies. They're described as wearing dark clothing, generally wearing hoodies and some type of facial covering or mask.

"Don't let what happened to me, discourage you. As long as you live, you're going to run into some crazy. Just don't get like them when you get older," said Bushner.

He's using his faith to stay strong. Bushner planned to retire this December.  He says this incident isn't going to force him to do it any sooner.

"I forgive that young man. I've prayed for him. Was that easy? No, I had to dig down inside," said Bushner.

His hope is that the robbers will see his story and turn their lives around.

Bushner has been receiving overwhelming support from the community.  Dairy Queen and Austin Achieve charter school, both near the shooting scene, sent him cards and gift cards.