Upper Darby Officer Raymond Blohm's back tells the tale of last Friday morning, when a man he was approaching on foot turned and shot him four times with a .22-caliber pistol.

A purple-yellow, fist-size bruise marks his lower back on the left side, where a bullet settled after shattering a vertebra. A blackened hole the size of a nickel shows where another bullet pierced his gun belt and lower back.

Related stories

A reddish bruise marks the path of a third bullet, headed for the back side of his heart and lungs, that his bulletproof vest stopped.

Blohm, 31, the father of two young girls, said he could not believe it when the man he was approaching, Marvin Marmolejos of Upper Darby, wheeled about and pulled a gun from his waistband. The men were about six feet apart.

"Just shock. I can't believe this guy is going to pull a gun on me and try to kill me," Blohm said at a news conference at Upper Darby police headquarters Wednesday. "The whole thing happened so fast."

Blohm was on patrol just after 12:30 a.m. Friday when he spotted Marmolejos, who has a record of narcotics and robbery arrests, near Copley Road and Ludlow Street near the 69th Street Terminal. Marmolejos, 27, of the 6700 block of Montgomery Avenue, was drinking from an open container and smoking what appeared to be a joint, police said.

Marmolejos walked off as Blohm approached and ordered him to stop. When Blohm threatened to use a Taser, Marmolejos began shooting.

"I heard all the shots being fired. I felt pain immediately in both lower sides of my back," Blohm said.

"There was concern for my family, my wife and kids. 'Am I going to get through this?' " Blohm said. "And training kicked in, and just, no time to think, just reacted immediately."

Blohm ducked behind a vehicle and fired, hitting Marmolejos four times in a leg, an arm, and the back. Then he chased Marmolejos, who ran up Copley and collapsed in the unit block.

"I didn't want him to hurt anybody else," Blohm said. "I knew there would be officers responding to assist me, and my fear was that he would hurt somebody else. I wanted to make sure I got him off the streets."

When Blohm saw his left thumb bleeding, he realized why the calls for backup he had made on his portable radio hadn't been answered: One of the bullets had severed a wire to it. He grabbed his cell phone and called for help.

"I started to become scared once my backup arrived," Blohm said. "OK, did it hit my vest? Did it hit me? I had no idea. I'd never been shot. I don't know what it would feel like to get hit in the vest or hit in the body."

Blohm was reassured by fellow officers and paramedics.

"It's kind of a relief hearing those sirens coming and hearing guys run up the street."

Blohm, seeing for the first time the vest that saved him, looked at a tiny hole in it.

"If not for the vest, that would be a fatal wound," said Capt. George Rhoades, who is investigating the case.

Marmolejos was charged with attempted homicide, assault, drug possession, and other counts. He is held at the Delaware County jail with cash bail set at $1 million.

Blohm walked gingerly Wednesday and said the shattered backbone was painful. Doctors expect to remove one of the two bullets in his back Friday. They'll likely leave the bullet lodged in his left side, preferring to avoid causing further tissue damage.

Blohm doesn't yet know when he'll return to work.

"My wife, it's been tough on her. I can tell she's been stressed and tired," he said. "There's definitely some healing that needs to be done, not just physically, but mentally, before I can go back out there and do it."

Contact staff writer Joelle Farrell at 610-627-0352 or jfarrell@phillynews.com.