Steve Collins was up before the sun Saturday morning to take care of the bakery he owns.
That same morning, he was back at the bakery wearing a hospital gown, a pair of pants and a cast on his arm.
The 58-year-old drove to the back of Bakery Mill & Deli, at 1143 NW 76th Blvd, at 4 a.m. to take out the trash. He noticed a red car parked near the dumpster with the windows rolled down, but he did not pay it much attention, he said.
He thought whoever was inside was asleep.
Collins stepped out of his car into the muggy air. He heard the car pull up next to him and saw a familiar face.
“Hey, you remember me?” the man said. “It’s Rico.”
Collins did remember him. It was the same man who walked out on his job at the bakery two years ago.
Carlos Gilberto Morales Serrano, 34, of Gainesville, went by Rico when he cooked eggs and made sandwiches at the Bakery Mill, Collins said.
He thought Morales Serrano was leaving when he drove down to the T.J. Maxx in the shopping plaza, he said — until he heard the engine roar.
The red car turned around and barreled toward Collins, he said. Morales Serrano slowed down to shoot twice at Collins, hitting him once in the left arm, police said.
Morales Serrano is accused of driving away, turning back around and shooting twice more. He made one last U-turn and almost came to a stop, Collins said. He feared the worst.
“The third time, I really started thinking he was going to walk me down,” Collins said.
Deputies said Morales Serrano shot once more and missed. Collins thinks he used a five-shot revolver, he said.
“I’m grateful to be alive,” he said. “I’m grateful he was a bad shot.”
After Morales Serrano drove away, Collins grabbed a towel from his car and wrapped his arm. He could not find his phone to call 911.
Collins did not call an ambulance, but instead drove himself to North Florida Regional Medical Center.
While doctors were treating Collins’ shattered arm, Morales Serrano hid in the attic at his home on the 6800 block of Southwest 4th Place, deputies said.
By 7 a.m., Collins drove back to the restaurant, he said. Meanwhile, Morales Serrano was in a three-hour standoff with deputies outside his home, deputies said. He was later charged with attempted first-degree murder, according to court records. He is being held at the Alachua County Jail in lieu of $1.25 million bond.
The restaurant was surprisingly busy for an ongoing crime scene, Collins said. About 15 customers were eating breakfast and chit-chatting while deputies worked outside.
“It’s a hole in the wall,” Collins said. “The drama for such a small place.”
Moe Rancourt, 86, has eaten at Bakery Mill & Deli almost every day for over 15 years, he said. He walked into the restaurant Saturday to sit at his favorite round table and treat himself to a western omelette.
Rancourt had no idea what happened to his best friend, but when he realized Collins was still wearing a hospital gown, he wanted to snap a photo, he said.
“Oh my god, you could’ve been killed,” Rancourt told Collins.
He gave him a hug.
Collins sat down with Rancourt and his friends to catch up on the day. The support he received from regulars and newcomers alike reminded him how blessed he is, he said.
“It makes you feel like part of the community,” he said.