Texas lawmaker shot in head by stray bullet from celebratory gunfire: 'It felt like a sledgehammer'
Armando 'Mando' Martinez (Facebook)

A Texas lawmaker was shot in the head and wounded by a stray bullet while celebrating New Year's Eve.

State Rep. Armando "Mando" Martinez (D-Weslaco) was hospitalized after he was injured by apparently celebratory gunfire early Sunday morning, reported KGBT-TV.

Martinez and his family were celebrating the new year just before midnight when they heard gunfire, so they sought shelter inside a garage with other revelers.

They went back outside to see a fireworks display after the gunfire stopped -- but then started up again.

“At the stroke of midnight, my wife comes over and gives me a hug and a kiss, and right after that it felt like a sledgehammer hitting the back of my head,” Martinez said. “I grabbed it and she said, ‘What’s wrong?’ I said I was hit by something.”

Martinez and his wife didn't immediately realize he'd been struck by a stray bullet, but he remembered a friend in law enforcement describe the pain of being shot to a sledgehammer blow.

He was taken to a nearby hospital, where surgeons removed a bullet that punctured his skull but didn't injure the lawmaker's brain.

Sheriff's deputies are investigating the shooting, which appears to be accidental.

Martinez said it was common to hear gunshots growing up in the formerly rural area along the Mexican border, just west of Brownsville, but the area had become more developed in recent years

“Before, the Valley wasn’t as populated as it is now, and growing up you used to hear gunshots many times,” Martinez said. “But you can’t do that now because somebody’s going to end up getting hurt. Unfortunately, last night it was me who got hurt."