BUCKTOWN — Neighbors, friends and even strangers have all stepped up in a big way to fund Kyle Garchar’s recovery after he was shot by a group of would-be robbers in front of his Bucktown apartment earlier this month.
Between two separate fundraising campaigns, friends of Garchar have raised nearly $10,000 in less than three weeks. The money will go toward Garchar’s medical and living expenses as he recovers from a close-range shot to his right leg.
“I’ve been in awe. There’s been a handful of times when I’ve gotten really emotional, not in an upset way, but in a happy, wow-this-is-unbelievable way. … The amount of good people there are out there …,” Garchar said.
The shooting happened just before 9 p.m. April 2.
Garchar was working on his parked 2001 Mercedes in front of his apartment, in the 2000 block of North Hoyne Avenue, when a group of four young men ran up to him.
One of them hit Garchar in the face a couple of times and knocked him over before another yelled, “Keys! Keys! Give me the keys!” Garchar didn’t have his keys on him, however.
“I was like, I don’t know where my keys are. … A split second after that, one of the other guys had a gun pointed at me and fired, probably three or four feet away,” Garchar said.
The robbers, one of them wearing a white ski mask, then ran away, leaving Garchar lying in the street.
Garchar didn’t realize he’d been shot at first, but as he went to get up, he felt a “really intense burning” sensation in his right leg and he wasn’t able to move it.
“I knew my leg was broken immediately,” he said.
Garchar yelled for his girlfriend, Ellen Hartel, who rushed to his side and used his belt as a tourniquet until the paramedics arrived.
Garchar was taken to the hospital where he was treated for a broken leg. The bullet had gone through his shin and shattered his tibia.
After surgery, doctors put pins in Garchar’s leg to ensure proper healing, which means he’ll use a wheelchair for eight weeks. Once Garchar is out of the wheelchair, he has to wear either a cast or a boot for up to six weeks.
Garchar is insured, but said his insurance doesn’t cover all of the costly medical expenses. Some of the money raised in the fundraising campaigns will go toward Garchar’s hospital bills and other related expenses including his wheelchair.
The money will also go toward meals, transportation and other living expenses as Garchar navigates limited mobility.
Despite the difficult circumstances, Garchar has an upbeat attitude. At his last hospital visit, doctors told him he was on his way to making a full recovery. That, coupled with the overwhelming amount of support he’s received, has him feeling positive.
Not only have friends and family members helped out, but strangers, friends of friends and neighbors have all checked up on him and donated.
“It’s been very, very overwhelming the amount of support I’ve gotten from people,” Garchar said, adding that Hartel and her parents have been especially helpful.
“Every five to 10 minutes a neighbor will come by and they’ll let me know they’ve been thinking about me and if I need anything don’t hesitate to ask.”
The 29-year-old also isn’t planning to flee Bucktown anytime soon.
“I think [the shooting] could’ve happened to anyone in Chicago,” he said. “The people who did it, they were out specifically looking for trouble. I don’t think where I lived had anything to do with it. I think it’s just bad timing — wrong place at the wrong time.”
Garchar went on, saying, “All things considered, I think I’m very lucky that nothing else happened. It’s very major to be shot in the leg and have a shattered bone. It’s pretty minor in comparison to what it could’ve been. I’m very grateful for that.”
Originally from Columbus, Ohio, Garchar moved to Chicago in 2011 to attend Columbia College Chicago. He’s lived in his current apartment on Hoyne Avenue since April of 2017.
Garchar said the incident, while traumatic, has made him a stronger person, and for that, he’s grateful.
“When bad things happen, you can go the woe-as-me route, but in reality, I think a lot of good has come out of this. It’s helped me realize how many good people there are,” he said.
Chicago Police spokeswoman Norma Pelayo said on Monday two of the four suspects, ages 16 and 17, have been charged with attempted vehicular hijacking with an aggravated firearm in connection with the crime.
Pelayo said the investigation is ongoing.
To donate to Garchar’s recovery, visit the GoFundMe page. The Facebook campaign has ended.
Do stories like this matter to you? Subscribe to Block Club Chicago. Every dime we make funds reporting from Chicago’s neighborhoods.