Silence in the community prevents justice for families hurt by gun violence, advocates say

San Antonio – A San Antonio family is frustrated by the silence of people they believe witnessed the murder of their loved one and are reluctant to come forward to speak with San Antonio police.

Olga Mendoza describes her brother, 24-year old Jared Mendoza, as a kindhearted gentleman and a hard worker. The father of a 3-year old girl was shot and killed inside his unit at the Alamo Oaks Apartments on Sunday evening.

“He worked here at the apartment complex where he was murdered,” Olga Mendoza said. “He was a very hard worker. Like, that’s one of the biggest things that sticks out for me about my brother and his very big heart.”

A police report says a caller told dispatch they saw Jared Mendoza lying on the ground of his unit around 6 p.m. Sunday. The family says neighbors told them what happened before and after the shooting but were reluctant to tell detectives what they saw or heard. The family is frustrated with their silence.

“For them to say, you know, your son was a good person. ‘He was this; he was that. Oh, we know who did it’ but not say where (the suspect) went or who took him somewhere or where,” Olga Mendoza said.

San Antonio police reported 94 homicides between January and August 2021.

Gyl Switzer with Texas Gun Sense says silence in a community traumatized by violence is prevalent. That’s where community-based programs are vital to helping slow down gun crime.

“I can understand their reluctance, in some ways, to talk to law enforcement. And so we need folks who are in the community, know others and can make a program together that works,” Switzer said.

Switzer and other anti-gun violence groups in Austin are urging lawmakers to divert money into community-based programs. The state will decide where $16 billion in federal coronavirus aid funds.

Switzer’s asking that $20 million be invested into anti-gun violence programs.

“There’s about four or five of these community violence intervention programs. And that’s not enough for a state as big as Texas,” she said.

At least one of those programs is here in San Antonio. Stand Up SA is funded by the city. The group of advocates have their ear to the ground and step in before guns are introduced.

Switzer says hurting families need these programs.

“Sometimes you need experiments first and see what programs work in San Antonio versus Houston, Dallas, El Paso. And so I’m willing to spend some money to see what works and to collect the data as we go into those programs, and we can certainly base them on programs where we have data that shows effectiveness,” she said.

If you have information on Jared Mendoza’s murder, call SAPD Crime Stoppers at 210-224-7867.

If you would like to tell lawmakers your thoughts about where those federal aid funds should be directed, click on the hyperlinks to be directed to the committee members who will make those decisions in the Texas House and Senate.

About the Authors

Patty Santos joined the KSAT 12 News team in July 2017. She has a proven track record of reporting on hard-hitting news that affects the community.

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