‘Why my daughter?’: Victim’s mother speaks after shooting outside East High

Kemery Ortega
Kemery Ortega(CNN)
Published: Mar. 21, 2022 at 6:14 AM CDT
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DES MOINES, Iowa (WOI) - Miriam Montiel is thankful her 18-year-old daughter, Kemery Ortega, is still alive after she was shot outside of East High School.

Ortega has been at MercyOne in Des Moines for nearly two weeks, and Montiel said there’s not an end in sight yet. She counts each day as a blessing even though her family is going through the toughest challenge they’ve ever faced.

“It was a real miracle that she’s still alive,” she said. “It has been an overwhelming week and a half.”

Ortega was one of three victims shot outside the school. Another teenage girl is also recovering, but 15-year-old Jose David Lopez was killed.

“When I heard the doctor saying that she got shot in the head, I crumbled. I felt like I was going to die in the moment. I was like, ‘Why my daughter? Why is this happening to her?’” Montiel said.

She continues documenting Ortega’s recovery and sharing it on social media.

Ortega is in good spirits and is resiliently pushing forward. On Thursday, she walked on her own without a walker for the first time since she was injured.

“They said definitely her speech was going to be affected but she’s speaking normally and we’re blessed,” Montiel said.

Through it all, both mother and daughter are thankful for the support from different communities and the donations to an online fundraiser for Ortega.

“What happened to my daughter went throughout the world and we’re so thankful to have that support,” Montiel said.

But more than anything, they draw strength from each other.

“I’m not as strong as she is, you know? Seeing her go through all of this gives me courage to keep going,” she added.

Montiel said the family is now consulting physical therapists and doctors to see when Ortega will be ready to leave the hospital.

While there’s still not a set date, they’re hopeful it will come soon.

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