St. Paul mother seeks justice after her son’s murder outside a Minneapolis bar

Katrina Mendoza is searching for answers 10 weeks after her 23-year-old son Gabriel was killed while working security at a bar in the Uptown neighborhood of Minneapolis.

Although Mendoza said he checks in weekly with the Minneapolis Police Department, no arrests have been made in connection with Gabriel’s death. She said she is now taking steps to find out who is responsible by showing a message to those who frequent the Fire House restaurant and bar, where Gabriel Mendoza, of St. Paul, was shot and killed October 16.

“My first goal is to find out who did this and beg them to come forward,” Mendoza said. “People know things and nobody says anything. … We need answers.”

Mendoza rented a truck with LED billboards on Saturday night to drive around the Fire House during the bar’s New Year’s Eve celebrations. She said that she is working with the organization. Minnesota Crime Stoppers to provide an anonymous tip line for people to call with information about how Gabriel was killed.

Topped off with the phrase “Who killed me?” The advertising truck announced an increase in the reward for information leading to an arrest from $2,500 to $10,000 and provided the tip line, 1-800-222-8477.

Mendoza said her son was loved and respected by the Westside St. Paul community and served as a protector at vigils for others killed by gun violence. Local business owners, family and friends helped raise funds and donated to support Mendoza’s efforts to shed light on Gabriel’s death and find the person responsible.

Edward Garcia and Katrina Mendoza, parents of Gabriel Mendoza, standing near a sign announcing a reward for information on who shot their son. (Olivia Stevens/Pioneer Press)

“People wanted to help our family but they also wanted to honor Gabe in that way,” Mendoza said.

Starting January 26, a similar message will be displayed on a billboard at the corner of West Lake Street and South Colfax Avenue for four weeks.

“We are not going to leave,” Mendoza said. “We know that someone knows something. And we want to thank the community for coming together in our darkest hour and helping us raise this money. I will continue to fundraise to have these types of things where we can address violence and see change in some systems.”

Mendoza said she has been writing to elected officials to tell her story and is working to schedule a listening session focused on gun violence with local religious leaders and Minneapolis Councilwoman Aisha Chugtai.

“I’m hoping that this produces some type of leads and something that leads to a conviction,” Mendoza said. “If it’s not, we’ll continue to raise funds and we’ll continue to do whatever we can.”

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