Kelvin Tennant, a 72-year-old retired school teacher shot in an unprovoked attack on a cycling trail last month, says he feels sorry for his attacker.
The grandfather of eight was shot multiple times in the head and chest while cycling on the Myrtleford-Everton trail in north-eastern Victoria on 18 February. He spent ten days in Prince Alfred Hospital followed by ten days in rehabilitation following the attack and still has bullet shards lodged in his brain.
Speaking at a Victoria Police press conference on Wednesday, he recalled the moment he was attacked.
"I was just cycling along. I noticed the dark car had been backed up with the boot very close to the trail.
I remember saying to him 'what are you doing this to me for?'"
"The gunman walking down the side of the car towards me. And he started shooting at me. I heard the 'crack, crack, crack' about three times -- there could have been more.
"I knew I'd been hit, but didn't feel any heavy impact. I remember saying to him 'what are you doing this to me for?'
"He didn't say anything that I heard, I don't think he spoke at all."
Tennant's bike carried him further down the trail a short distance until he unbalanced and fell off.
Awaiting help, at first he thought he was going to die.
"At one stage I thought, this is it, lights out... And then I suddenly had a very strong conviction that this day was not the day that God was going to let me die. It was very powerful."
When two cyclists came to his rescue, Tennant didn't tell them he had been shot.
"I was concerned that the gunman might be around and that that might cause them undue fear, so I didn't mention having been shot until I was put into the ambulance," he said.
"I recall saying to [one of the cyclists] something like 'No, I'm alright. Just as soon as I get up, I will be on my way again'. And he said 'No you won't'."
Since the attack, the retired school teacher has suffered from problems with his hearing and sight in his right eye as well as severe chest and head wounds, having been shot four to six times with .22mm rounds.
But he bears no resentment against the man who came so close to ending his life.
I've been given back to my family and it's been a lovely thing to put my arms around my grandchildren and my wife and my own children, and I'm going to make the most of what I've been given."
"In many ways, I feel sorry for people who do these things," he said.
"I'm certainly not going to waste human energy getting angry.
"I've been given back to my family and it's been a lovely thing to put my arms around my grandchildren and my wife and my own children, and I'm going to make the most of what I've been given and I'm not going to be concerned about this fellow."
The quietly spoken grandfather also says he isn't afraid to get back on his bike.
"I've done tens of thousands of kilometres of cycling over my life. I'm in my seventies now, what are the odds of meeting someone like that again?"
Victorian police are yet to arrest anyone in relation to the attack, which occurred approximately eight kilometres from the small town of Everton in a section of the bike trail near the Great-Alpine Road.
Police say they believe the attacker left the area in a dark coloured sedan.
"The Great-Alpine Road is a very busy road and a large number of vehicles would have passed the Burgoigee Creek rest area at the time of the shooting," Armed Crime Squad Detective Senior Constable Elise Douglas said.
Detectives have spoken to the two cyclists who assisted Tennant, but are seeking the assistance of two other cyclists, a man and woman, who also stopped to help but left before police arrived.
Anyone with any information is being urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.Suggest a correction