A Western Bay man shot in the head during an attack by a gang of youths says he could have died if the air rifle pellet had hit at a different angle.
"It blows me away a kid could pull a trigger ... I could be dead," the man told the Bay of Plenty Times.
He recalled that during Saturday morning's attack, the offenders kept their faces masked.
"They were hooded [wearing hooded sweatshirts] and kept their faces covered, so all you could see were their eyes," he said.
The attackers, some as young as 14, also made "gang signs" with their hands, in between throwing punches and kicks and also "taunted" their victims verbally.
The 24-year-old from Papamoa, who has chosen to keep his identity hidden, said he felt lucky to be alive after a fun night out with a mate turned sinister.
The tele-sales rep, and his 21-year-old friend _ a Bay retail manager _ were attacked as a result of what police are calling a "wild pack mentality" outside the bar Imbibe in Mount Maunganui on Friday night.
As the men returned to their car from the bar at about 1.30am, they noticed six teenagers loitering outside their vehicle, tagging words in the dust.
"I told them to rub it off, and they did rub it off after some persuasion but as we went to leave, they attacked us," he said.
The group of about six youths, aged 14-18 punched the man's 21-year-old friend to the ground, knocking him unconscious.
"I stood over him to protect him and they attacked me," he said.
During the assault, another five or more young people stepped out from under the Bayfair carpark building and joined in.
The shot victim said he tried to protect himself but there were just too many attackers.
"I just picked him [my mate] up and threw him in the truck. I drove home and my partner drove us to the hospital."
The man said he had no idea he had an air gun slug embedded in his head _ or which youth put it there _ because he didn't realise the extent of his injuries until arriving at Tauranga Hospital and having an x-ray.
"Blood was running down my back and I had a gash in my head just above my right ear," he said.
The man was mystified at why the teenagers decided to use such brutality and was still in shock over the age of his attackers.
"They were so young, and there were so many of them," he said.
The man said the carpark was mostly empty during the assault but there was a security guard who they believe witnessed the beating and failed to call police.
Detective sergeant Darryl Brazier of Tauranga CIB said no arrests had been made to date and that police would discover today if there was any CCTV footage of the attack.
Police are still interested to hear from any witnesses. Call 577-4300 or phone anonymously on 0800 SPEAK UP.