Mary Kristene Chapa, 18, who was shot in the head on Saturday along with her girlfriend Mollie Judith Olgin, 19, who was killed, is making an “amazing” recovery, her brother told NBCLatino.com.
“Krissy’s health — considering what happened to her — she’s doing amazing,” says Hilario Chapa, 32. “She’s making a strong recovery. The doctors are amazed.”
A couple visiting Andrews Park in Portland, Texas on Saturday saw the bodies of two teens in a grassy area. In a statement, Portland police chief Randy Wright said that while family and friends have confirmed the two teens were in a same-sex relationship, there is no evidence as of yet to indicate the attacks were a hate crime. The Texas Rangers have joined the investigation.
Hilario, a tech sergeant in the Air Force reserve, who served with the 82nd airborne division, says his sister took sign language in high school and has been able to communicate in that way. He says she has made physical progress on her right side but they are still waiting for a response from the left side of her body.
“The doctors say it’s too early, no one is using the word paralyzed,” he says. “They say we should be so happy with her progress after 3 or 4 days. She’s very strong. She survived a very tough ordeal but her recovery is coming in strides and impressing everybody.”
As of now her brother says there is no timeline for when she can come out of the intensive care unit and because of the investigation he is hesitant to share many details about the search for a suspect.
“We don’t know who did this to her, she hasn’t given us a name,” he says. “We’re under the impression she doesn’t know who did it. We don’t know if it’s a hate crime.”
The Mexican-American Chapa family lives in Sinton, Texas, which is 72 percent Latino.
A remarkably composed Hilario says he initially had trouble controlling his emotions when he found out what happened to his sister. His father, who is an Iraq war veteran, and his mother have also had to deal with the devastating shooting of their daughter.
“My father is the strong one,” he says. “My mom is not doing so well. They haven’t left the hospital. They come to my house to shower and then go back.”
With their father between jobs, Kristene is without insurance. The family has set up an official donation page on WePay, to help pay for her medical bills.
He says the family of Mollie Olgin has reached out to meet with his family but it hasn’t happened yet because his mother is so shaken over what happened that she is struggling with the idea of meeting with a family who lost their daughter. He says the families will eventually meet soon.
Hilario also addressed the support his family has received from across the country, as a Facebook event for a “candle lit walk in memory of Olgin and to keep Kristene Chapa in prayers for a speedy” recovery has 741 people who say they will participate Friday evening. He also says he and his family cherish the support they’ve received from the gay community across the country and abroad.
“I don’t want to say the wrong thing because my sister has always been private,” he says. “She is a lesbian and she’s getting a lot of support from the gay and lesbian community. I’m proud of my sister. I have no problem with it and our family doesn’t either.”
Her brother says the support through this dark time is lifting spirits.
“It makes us all stronger and brings the community together,” he says.
“We just want to make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone else and find who did this.”