WICKER PARK — A man who was randomly shot in his face last month at The Point is recovering — and hoping to regain his vision and get back to helping his community and caring for his mom.
Jordan Mendez wasn’t expecting to work Feb. 5 in Wicker Park, but he ended up covering a shift for a coworker. That night at at his job, DSTRKT Bar & Grill, was a pretty standard one, said Mendez, 29.
“It was good crowd, everyone was making money. … There were no issues throughout the day, just a good Saturday,” he said.
After closing 3 a.m. Feb. 6, a few coworkers asked Mendez if he wanted to grab a drink down the street at The Point, 1565 N. Milwaukee Ave., a bar and music venue.
“I really wasn’t too sure if I wanted to go, but I ended up going,” he said. “We get in there, everything was normal.”
Mendez hung out at The Point for about 40 minutes, sipping slowly on a beer and chatting with friends before deciding to leave, he said.
“Next thing I know, I’m ordering my Uber to go home, and then of course I just start hearing the gunshots,” Mendez said. “I feel this pain on the right side of my face. I knew instantly that I was hit.
“My first instinct was just to drop to the ground. At that point, that’s all I could do. So I dropped to the ground.”
Mendez was shot just below his right eye. He was bleeding heavily, but he remained conscious.
“I was like, ‘Damn, I really just got shot. I’m definitely shot right now. And I’m definitely shot in the head,'” he said.
A security guard at the bar started applying pressure to Mendez’s face while his friends yelled his name, he said. Paramedics arrived to take him to Stroger Hospital.
Inside the ambulance, Mendez was convinced he was about to die.
“I had my flashbacks. That moment in the ambulance, I was making my peace with God. I was prepared that, that was the end,” Mendez said. “And the only thing I was asking to the medics, I was just asking them, ‘Please just let me call my mom and make sure she’s OK. Make sure she’s taken care of.'”
But when Mendez arrived at the hospital, his condition had stabilized and doctors told him almost immediately he was going to live, he said.
“They told me it doesn’t make sense: ‘We don’t know how the way the bullet was shot and the angle it came at that it didn’t go through and hit your brain. We have not ever seen anything like this. This is a very unique situation for us,'” Mendez said.
Mendez was able to go home two days later. Ten days after the shooting, he had surgery to remove the bullet from under his eye.
Now, Mendez is waiting for surgeries he hopes will save part of his vision and repair broken portions of his orbital bone and jaw, which were fractured in the shooting.
Daveon Montgomery, 21, has been charged in connection to the shooting. It was the second shooting associated with The Point in five months.
‘Just So Grateful’
Mendez — in and out of the hospital the past month — said he’s dealing with survivor’s guilt and has reflected on his mortality and future.
“I was eating french fries in my hospital bed, and I was getting emotional, just thankful that I’m there eating french fries,” he said. “Honestly, since everything has happened, that’s really just been where I’ve been at with it. I’ve just been just so grateful.”
Mendez has lived full-time in Chicago since 2020, when he moved to the city to care for his mother after she had brain surgery. She had a brain tumor “the size of a peach,” Mendez said, then suffered a stroke and several seizures during a medical procedure.
“I really came back to the city to take care of my mom,” Mendez said. “It was the right decision for me to be closer to her, and help take her to her appointments.”
Upon moving back to the city, Mendez starting working as an after-school mentor at Roberto Clemente High School, near his home in Humboldt Park. And last year, he picked up the job at DSTRKT, where he became a server, to make some extra money and to work nights so he could be with his mom during the day, he said.
Mendez’s coworkers at DSTRKT set up a GoFundMe to help cover his expenses while he recovers. They’ve raised more than $16,000 out of a $20,000 goal.
Mendez said he’s tried to joke about the shooting to break the ice with friends and coworkers who have reached out with supportive messages.
The day after Mendez was shot, he texted a work group chat, joking that he hoped he wouldn’t “get a warning” for not getting someone to cover his shift that Sunday.
“I recognize that life is so short. And there’s so much more happiness that we can experience as humans and even just our interactions with one another. So I’ve always tried to just keep things light, you know, and I’m trying to find humor,” he said.
As Mendez prepares for more time in the hospital and a lengthy recovery, he said he’s not exactly sure what he wants to do next — but hopes it’s community-focused work, similar to what he was doing at Clemente.
“At the end of the day I feel like I’m a servant. I’m a servant to the community. I’m a servant to my family,” he said. “And so it’s hard for me in a sense to be served, … and that’s something, that’s a new process. That’s something new I’m learning, and even that’s frustrating sometimes to receive.”
Mendez has been listening to podcasts and music in the downtime since the shooting, and said he was recently struck by one song in particular.
“I feel like I’m the same person but different at the same time. I was listening to a song the other day, it’s called ‘Old Roots, New Trees.’ It was like studying beats, you know, those like lo-fi beats, but the song was moving to me. And I looked down and the name just seems so appropriate for me where I’m at. It’s old roots, but I feel like I’m growing new trees.”
The Point remains closed after police dubbed it a “public safety threat” last month. Officials said the bar’s leaders met with city officials to discuss a reopening plan, but a representative for the bar had no updates Monday.
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