Jose Alejando Medina loved classic cars. His first was a 1976 Monte Carlo – the year he was born – purchased with money he made working construction after relocating to the Chicago area from California in 1994.
The Riverside resident also had a thing for vintage Ford Broncos, like the white one he brought to his last car show at Morton College on June 23. He had the Chicago Bears license plates on that Bronco personalized:
“NOT OJ,” the plates read.
The Chi Town Classic Cars Club’s show wrapped up at 10 p.m. and Medina joined other classic car owners for a post-show hang outside Archer Park, at 49th Street and Kilbourn Avenue in Chicago.
With the park on one side of the street and industrial buildings on the other, it’s typically a quiet spot for the after-hours hangout, away from residences. The classic car owners are typically older guys, in their 40s and 50s, some bring their kids.
“It was a cool hangout; we’ve hung out there many times before,” said Roger Martinez, an administrator for Chi Town Classic Cars Club. “It was the first time we were there this year. Nobody’s ever had any problems or anything.”
This time there was a problem.
Medina and a friend were simply hanging out when they heard gunshots nearby. The friend told police he took off running to take cover and assumed Medina was behind him. When he turned around, he saw Medina had been shot in the chin. Detectives are still investigating the shooting.
Paramedics transported Medina to Christ Hospital in Oak Lawn, about seven miles away, where he remained in critical condition until June 26, when he died, another innocent victim of gun violence in the United States.
He leaves his wife of 20 years, Alesandra, and two daughters, 16-year-old Laura, who is a student at Riverside-Brookfield High School, and 9-year-old Thalia, who attends Blythe Park School.
Medina’s older sister, Sylvia, was the first to be notified. She broke the bad news to his wife.
“He was a wonderful man, a family man, a businessman who went out of his way for a lot of people,” Sylvia said.
Georgia Concepcion, a family friend, has set up an online fundraiser to assist the family with medical and funeral expenses.
“He was just trying to have a nice evening hanging out with friends and then this happens,” Concepcion said. “We were hoping for a miracle and are in disbelief. I can’t believe [this] week we have to sit there and cry on his casket.”
A funeral Mass for Medina will be celebrated on July 7, at 9:30 a.m. at St. Odilo Church in Berwyn. On July 1, family and friends gathered in the parking lot of St. Odilo School for a balloon release in Medina’s memory. The balloons were blue and gray, Medina’s favorite color combination.
Medina was an organ donor and shortly after his death, staff at Christ Hospital joined family members in lining a hallway to pay respect as his body was wheeled past.
“He had the biggest heart anyone has had,” Sylvia said. “Four people are able to live on because of him.”