- Special Sections
- Public Notices
A year has passed, and justice is ever more fleeting for the family of Joel Mena.
On Friday night, flowers and flickering candles encircled a tree on College Street in commemoration of the spot where a year ago Mena, 17, was gunned down in a dispute about a girl.
"She [the girl] told the other man that she wanted to go back to Joe, that she didn't want to be with him anymore because he was older than her and had a pregnant wife," said Mena's mother, Loretta Mena. "And he told her if he couldn't have her, then nobody would."
Near the intersection of College and 9th streets, shots were fired, and Mena fell near that tree. He was transported to Jewish Hospital Shelbyville, where he was pronounced dead.
A man charged in the shooting, Salomon Caballero Gomez, 23, fled the country before police could apprehend him.
Police originally were seeking a man named Santiago Caballero as the shooter, but changed his identity after discovering that name was an alias.
He was indicted two months later for murder.
Police indicated at the time that Gomez was believed to have returned to Mexico, but Shelbyville Police Chief Robert Schutte said Monday that police believe Gomez now is in Guatemala,
"We think he's in that general area, and if we had a more precise location, the authorities there would have a better chance to help apprehend him," he said.
Schutte said that if Gomez were to return to the United States and be arrested for any reason, the charges against him would show up on NCIC (National Crime Information Center), and he would be extradited to Shelbyville.
In the meantime, Mena's family continues to mourn and hope that someday justice will be served, said his mother, who described her son as a very loving young man who would do anything for anyone.
"I miss him every day," she said. "There isn't a day that goes by that I don't cry.
"There is one thing I know for sure. If the police don't get him [the shooter], God will."