Rosemount man shot in IGH robberyLots of people have been calling Matt Huerta a hero this week. But Huerta doesn’t feel much like a hero. He just feels lucky.
By: Nathan Hansen, Rosemount Town Pages
Lots of people have been calling Matt Huerta a hero this week. But Huerta doesn’t feel much like a hero. He just feels lucky.
Lucky to have escaped with only a gunshot wound from a confrontation that left another man dead.
Huerta was working as manager at Trail Liquors in Inver Grove Heights last Thursday. He was doing the books. He’d had a few customers, but nothing out of the ordinary.
That changed around 10:20 a.m. A man came in with a gun and demanded money. Huerta offered to hand over what was in the till — he said that’s all there was in the store at the time — but the man wasn’t satisfied. He wanted Huerta to open the safe.
The robber threatened to tie up Huerta, and Huerta told police the man fired a warning shot into the floor. At some point, Huerta decided the man had no intention of leaving him alive.
“I believed I was going to be shot and left for dead,” Huerta said. “I believed I needed to do something.”
Huerta grabbed for the man’s gun. They struggled over it. Rolled on the floor. Inver Grove Heights police Lieutenant Jerry Salmey said the gun fired five times. Huerta was hit once in the leg, the bullet passing through his upper left thigh. The robber was hit once in the leg and once in the hand.
Both Huerta and the robber were taken to Regions Hospital. The robber died that afternoon.
Huerta served in the Army. But he said that didn’t give him any particular advantage in his struggle.
“That was way back when,” he said. “I’m 57 years old now. I don’t attribute any of that. Mine was just all about survival.
“I can’t explain it how much fear there was there.”
Huerta said he thought there was something suspicious about the robber from the minute he walked in. But he expected the man to try to grab something from the store and run. He said he would have been happy to let the man take what he wanted and go.
“I feel very lucky,” Huerta said. “I know everybody says I’m some kind of hero. I’m not anybody’s hero. I just feel fortunate to be alive and I don’t recommend anybody doing what I did.
“Everybody, like the police say, should comply and don’t take matters into your own hands,” he said. “That’s what I did. I complied and it just turned out the way it turned out.”
While police don’t typically recommend confronting robbers Salmey said it’s hard to be critical of how Huerta acted.
“A person makes those decisions based on what they feel at the time,” he said.
Salmey said police believe Huerta acted in self defense but the incident is still under investigation. It will be up to the Dakota County Attorney’s office to decide whether Huerta should be charged with anything.
In the meantime, Huerta is trying to get back to normal. He’s on pain medication now and he’s got at least four doctors he has to visit. He’s still trying to decide whether he wants to talk to a psychologist about how he’s feeling.
Huerta expects to go back to work at some point, but he’s not sure how he’ll feel when he does — or if he’ll be able to stay.
“I’ve had a lot of support from people,” he said. “I’ve gotten one letter from a person unknown from Minneapolis. That really lifted up my spirits that day when I read it.
“It’s still fairly new,” he said. I don’t know if it’s all sunk in how lucky I was.”