By Nazarii Baytler —
San Diego Sheriff’s Det. Ali Perez kicked in the door to the apartment where a vicious child molester was lying in wait with a high-powered rifle trained on the door.
Ali’s left arm got almost completely blasted off, and he took another bullet to his torso. As his two partners fell back and the door closed behind him, Ali fired off his entire clip, collapsed and tried to reload in the Sept. 25, 2012 incident.
“I was having a very hard time coming to terms with the fact that this was where I was going to meet my end, that here I was going to meet my end and I knew it and there was nothing I could do to change it,” Ali says in a CBN video. “
The next shot, he feared, would be to his head.
Also wounded, the suspect, an insolent Daniel Witczak, who was accused of abusing his live-in girlfriend’s daughters, walked over to the fallen and injured Ali, who because of his injuries still hadn’t managed to reload.
Then an apparition of Jesus interposed between him and the criminal.
“It was magnificent,” Ali says. “I knew one of two things was going to happen. Either I was going home to the Lord or I was going home to Gracie and the kids.”
In his mind, Ali addressed Jesus.
“Lord I trust You completely,” he prayed. “What do You want me to do with this guy.
Jesus took a quill from an ink bottle and wrote a message on an index card-sized note. He returned the quill to the bottle, and the note fluttered down onto the chest of the fallen Ali.
“I pick it up. I read it,” Ali remembers. “It says, ‘I want you to bless him.’”
“This is a guy who just almost completely ripped my arm off, shot a hole through my body, shot my supervisor, horribly molested these two girls,” Ali muses. “Jesus didn’t say, ‘Reload and finish the job.’ He said, ‘I want you to bless him.’”
“I looked right at the bad guy, and I said, ‘God bless you, brother.’”
Up until now, Ali had been transfixed by Jesus, but as he observed the suspect, he realized the words of blessing produced an effect.
“His mannerism changed,” he remembers. “He asks me, ‘Would you like to crawl out to your friends now?’ Almost calm.”
Ali had no idea if Witczak sees the vision of Jesus or not.
“Yes,” he told the suspect. “Yes, I’m ready to go.”
Witczak actually helped Ali towards the front door. The vision of Jesus and these events transpired in three minutes.
By now, a backup arrived, and cops fired through the door. Witczak took cover and left Ali alone on the floor.
The door opened by itself. Ali dragged himself toward the open door, where a rescue team pulled him out.
Witczak eventually surrendered to deputies.
Ali was rushed to the ER. The doctors’ report was grim: no chance for survival.
“Everybody dropped to their knees,” Ali recounts. Not only his family and church but also fellow Christian deputies at the Santee Sheriff’s station in San Diego. “I’m alive because of the power of prayer.”
Ali eventually submitted to 27 surgeries and hours of grueling rehabilitation, the detective now walks and gets about fairly normally. His left arm, however, remains in a sling. He is medically retired.
At Witczak’s trial, Ali testified. While recounting the facts, he also extended grace to the man who tried to kill him.
Witczak received and is currently serving a life sentence in prison.
“I got to spend three minutes with Jesus before my Day of Judgement. If I got some cuts and bruises along the way and lost the use of my arm, it was worth it,” he says. “Every heartbeat and every breath is a gift from God. I’m so, so thankful. I am thankful to be here.”
Ali spends much of his time now testifying in front of churches about the vision of Jesus and his miraculous recovery.
“I am thankful for the opportunity to testify to people that He is true, that God is real, that Jesus loves us so very, very much. There’s an opportunity that we got to, before it’s too late, get on our knees and humble ourselves and get right with the Lord.”
Nazarii Baytler studies at the Lighthouse Christian Academy in Santa Monica.