By Joseph Serna, Staff Writer
Kenyon Press in Signal Hill has established a fund for Luis Alvarez, one of the victims from the March 5 shooting when a fellow employee entered the business and opened fire on his coworkers.
Alvarez, 60, by far the most injured of 68-year-old Jose Mendez’s three victims, remains paralyzed from the waist down after a bullet shattered one of his vertebrae.
While lying in a pool of his own blood, shot five times, the two other victims reportedly heard Alvarez praying for their lives, as well as for Mendez’s, who ultimately turned the gun on himself.
Mendez was apparently a friend of Alvarez and his two other victims, Sergio Garcia and Rafael Mendoza, who reportedly helped Mendez get hired at Kenyon Press.
Officers said Mendez was likely disgruntled about reduced hours at the menu-printing company-he was not scheduled to work that morning or for the two previous months.
Alvarez’s undoubtedly long recovery will be expensive. Donations can be made at a Washington Mutual bank under “For the benefit of Luis Alvarez,” account number 3130510444.
On Friday, Alvarez, the father of two daughters and one son, opened his eyes for the first time since the shooting. Though he remains on a ventilator, he responds to sounds and can slightly nod his head.
“It was like seeing a baby coming into the world,” said his daughter, Silvia Garcia.
Dr. Mauricio Heilbron Jr. said Alvarez has a long way to go, and he’s not in the clear yet.
Alvarez is still in critical condition from the five gunshots. When he arrived at St. Mary’s Medical Center, surgeons removed a pint of blood from his abdomen and two to three feet of his intestine, which Heilbron said had multiple punctures. Two bullets still remain inside him.
Heilbron said Alvarez was millimeters away from death, when bullets entering from his left side barely missed two vital arteries in his midsection-Heilbron suspects Alvarez will be permanently paralyzed.
“He’s super strong,” Heilbron said, saying Alvarez has fared better than people half his age. “There’s something keeping him going.”
Alvarez has so far endured two surgeries, and is at a prime age for health complications from diabetes or hypertension.
“We just need to be patient and hope for the best,” Garcia said.