by Marvin J. Ramírez
For approximately five years, Dennis Mendoza and Marvin Berroterán were like two inseparable brothers, both from Nicaragua, about the same age, and about the same weight size. The two best-friends hang around with other friends and shared occasional cocktails in local joints in the Mission, usually near 24th Street and South Van Ness Avenue.
The Day of the Dead Parade last November was not different, the El Reportero’s camera spotted them together watching the parade pass by just a few meters from Berroterán’s mother, where he lives with his elderly mother.
On Feb. 17, they were also together, sitting on the stairs of Berroteran’s house entrance at about 7:20 p.m., when a small group of youngsters approached them with a challenging, “what are you looking at me,” and Mendoza responding, “I am not looking at you.” The youths, according to friends close to the family, responded by spitting at Mendoza and Berroterán.
Subsequently, the group were joined by others who descended from a car, increasing their number to about 15 – armed with bats and a broken bottles, started assaulting them savagely with their weapons, leaving both, and an identified woman, critically injured on the ground.
The two men now lay on the same floor and a few beds apart from each other in the Intensive Care Unit at the San Francisco General Hospital, where both fight for their lives. The woman, who was also injured, remains hospitalized under extreme police watch, as she might be a key witness for the identification of the aggressors.
According to hospital sources, Mendoza, who worked 30 years as an engineering technician for AT&T before retiring recently, have a good chance of recuperating from the injuries suffered in the right side of the head by the eye, as well as neck injuries. Although he is considered to be in comatose status, he opens his eyes occasionally but hasn’t talked. A source told El Reportero he had contracted a lung infection.
The injuries to Berroterán, meanwhile, left him almost with little chance of survival, although a doctor at the hospital expressed remote optimism. He’s also been in comma after the assailants broke his skull with bat beating, which left him with part of his brain hanging out. His broken bone flap, which lines the inner skull and covers the brain, was removed. He is connected to an artificial respirator and fed intravenously, same as Mendoza.
At press time, El Reportero learned from non-official sources that the police- which is not talking much about the case with the media to protect the investigation – might already have knowledge of the identity of some of the suspects.