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Hero wouldn't 'just lay down'

For someone who was shot several times at point-blank range during a home invasion in the tropics, Les Lehmann is making a remarkable recovery.

Lehman, 64, says even the doctors who treated him after the attack in January at a small apartment complex in the Dominican Republic were surprised.

"The doctors were sort of shaking their heads the next day. They thought there were nine wounds in me and it turned out there were 10," Lehmann told reporters assembled Friday in the backyard of his son and daughter-in-law's home in suburban Winnipeg.

"But they said there were no bullets in me and (the thieves) didn't hit anything vital — didn't hit my head, didn't hit my chest, didn't hit my stomach."

Lehman was shot while he was hosting a group of Manitoba students who were doing humanitarian work. The attack was captured on surveillance video, which shows two men kicking open a door to Lehmann's residence and one entering.

Moments later, Lehmann is seen chasing one with a baseball bat and striking him. The second man emerges with a handgun. There is a brief struggle in which Lehmann tries to swing the bat at the armed man, who shoots several times. Lehmann falls and starts bleeding, the two men run off and help arrives several minutes later.

What is not shown on the video, Lehmann said, is an initial confrontation inside in which he grabbed a machete, was shot at and stomped on several times.

He never thought about surrendering.

"I was probably angry more than anything that two people would come and try to break into my place," he recalled as he spoke publicly for the first time about what happened.

"It never occurred to me to just lay down and let them do to me what they wanted to do."

Lehmann was initially taken to a hospital in the Dominican Republic. His family raised funds to cover the cost of his care, which topped $1,200 a day.

When he returned to Canada, he moved in with relatives. Now walking with a cane, he undergoes three or four hours of physiotherapy a day. He has plates in one arm and a leg. Nerve damage has made it hard for him to make a fist with one hand, but he is expecting to make a full recovery in the coming year or two.

He still has scars from two bullets that grazed his chest.

Lehmann has an easy smile and seems very much relaxed, but said the experience has affected him.

"If I'm watching TV and I see a gun come out, or if I'm watching the news and somebody gets shot, it affects me a little bit.

"When I see it now, it gives me a different feeling."

The Canadian Press

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