Q & A with Kemery Ortega

Warning the follow content may be triggering for some people.


Shukri Abdirahman

On Monday, March 7, 2022, at 2:47 p.m., over 40 shots were fired in East High School’s student parking lot, leaving two East High students, senior Kemery Ortega and sophomore Jessica Lopez, injured. Another former East High School student, Jose David Lopez was killed in the gunfire. Ortega and Lopez have been recovering since the shooting, and this is Ortega’s story. Scroll Staff interviewed Ortega on March 24, 2022.
How are you doing right now and where are you?
“I’m not doing too bad; I’m in a bit of pain but it’s manageable. I can handle it. I’m at the recovery home, and it’s been going well, I should be going home today,” Ortega said. Ortega has since returned home and is back at school.
Can you tell us about your injuries?
“I don’t know how far the bullet is in my head, but I still have it in there. I think it’s back here behind my ear. I don’t know too much…they say that it’s doing a good job healing,” Ortega said.
What are the challenges you have faced through your recovery process?
“The pain of course is something that I have dealt with. They took my stitches and staples out. It did not hurt as much as I thought it would. Sleeping has not been the best, but I have been getting a couple hours in,” Ortega said.
What has your recovery been like?
“It’s frustrating having to be in bed and needing help every time I get up and move. It’s been hard, but we’ve been doing a pretty good job keeping up with all the medicine and everything going into my body to take care of the pain,” Ortega said.
How is your family doing?
“I know the first couple days and following weeks were scary for them watching me recover. The doctor said something was going to slow down in my head but luckily the doctors were wrong and there is nothing wrong with me as far as the tests go,” Ortega said.
What was going through your mind when you heard the commotion?
“I thought it was just a shooting threat, and I didn’t think anything was going to happen. I left one of my friend’s cars to go into another friend’s car and I saw him (the friend) crouch. I’m like ‘somethings going to happen,’ so as I was going to crouch, that’s when it happened. I could feel the paramedics feeling my neck to see if I was awake or not, and I literally couldn’t see a thing. I don’t really know much after that. My vision just went black and grey, and I could hear people screaming my name,” Ortega said.
Do you remember anything when you got to the hospital?
“When I got to the hospital, I felt the paramedics working on my head, cutting my hair, I was rolled on my side watching all the doctors working around me. I knew I had got hit or something, but I didn’t know exactly what to think. I could feel people working on me and cutting my clothes, that was overwhelming,” Ortega said.
What’s your school plan?
“I want to go back and finish up the school year, I want to graduate if I can, and hopefully get accepted to a trade school. We’ll see how that goes,” Ortega said.
What message do you have for the East community?
“I hope they aren’t scared and don’t do anything that will provoke anything bad in their life. Stay away from dangerous activities. Of course, nobody wants this to happen again. Stay strong and keep your head up,” Ortega said.
An investigation into the shooting is on-going, but 10 local teenagers are in custody and facing charges that include first degree murder and attempted murder. DMPD determined that 42 shell casings have been recovered and “forensic examination of those shell casings shows that a total of six firearms were fired.”