Yakima neighbors raise more than $98,000 for shooting victim

35-year-old man paralyzed after drive-by shooting

YAKIMA, Wash. — A 35-year-old man is recovering after being shot Sunday evening while gardening in the front yard of his Yakima home and the community is coming together to help him.

Family created a GoFundMe page to help with the costs of Jonathan Spear’s recovery, with the goal of raising $10,000 to help cover medical costs. In just a little over a day, friends, neighbors and strangers have donated more than $98,000.

“A little more than 24 hours in, we’re at 541 people who said, ‘This isn’t right. We’re here to stand by you. We’re here to stand for what’s right and good,'” said Caleb Spear, Jonathan’s brother. “That’s incredibly humbling and encouraging as a family.”

Jonathan was outside gardening about 5:20 p.m. at his home near South 24th and West Chestnut avenues when he was shot multiple times by someone in a passing car.

“When the officers got there, there was a neighbor that was actually rendering first aid to the man,” Yakima Police Capt. Jay Seely said. “Neighbors said they observed a blue Ford Taurus speeding in the neighborhood right about the time that the shots were fired and then the vehicle sped off.”

Officers later found what they believe to be the shooter’s vehicle, impounded it and are waiting on a search warrant to be able to examine the interior of the car. No arrests have been made.

Seely said at this point in the investigation, the shooting does not appear to be gang-related and the motive is unclear. Family members are also struggling to determine why it happened.

“As a family it’s shocking to us, I mean, Jonathan is on the up and up with everything,” Caleb said. “He’s just a really kind, patient, loving guy … so we can’t really wrap our heads around it.”

Jonathan was taken to Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital for treatment, then airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, where he underwent emergency surgery.

“Yesterday, I think he was kind of in and out of it, but I did get a picture of him smiling this morning,” Caleb said.

Caleb said one bullet went through Jonathan’s right scapula and the other pierced his spinal cord.

“We’re under the impression that it is doubtful that Jonathan will walk again,” Caleb said. “Fortunately, he does retain use of his upper body, so I think we’re praying for the best.”

Caleb said neighbors have banded together to support Jonathan and his pregnant wife, Valerie, as much as they can — including pitching in to care for his beloved garden.

“These are people who walked by his house, who chatted with Jonathan, who saw him gardening in the front yard, who saw him on his walks,” Caleb said. “Time and time again, he’s one that just reaches out and loves people.”

Caleb said his brother is eccentric, brilliant, fun, outdoorsy, has a dry sense of humor, loves people with his whole heart and volunteers in the community.

Jonathan is a self-employed construction contractor and serves on the board of directors for La Casa Hogar, a nonprofit organization that educates and supports Latino families in the Yakima Valley.

“Something that really motivates him — something that I think motivates a lot of our family  — is serving and loving people,” Caleb said. “When I speak with him, it’s the best part of his day, the best part of his week to be able to reach out and serve and help people.”

According to the La Casa Hogar website, in the past 10 years, Jonathan has worked as a public health promoter in Lima, Peru, a Medicaid benefits educator in Colorado Springs, Colorado and as a clinical trial coordinator in Portland, Oregon.

“When he’s not working, Jonathan can be found puttering in the garden, exploring the great outdoors, volunteering at the Yakima Rotary Food bank or reading a book,” the website said. “He loves the social justice work that La Casa Hogar does in the Yakima Valley.”

Dozens of supportive community members left comments on the GoFundMe page when they donated, including:

  • “We live just down the street and our hearts go out to you. Sending healing thoughts and prayers for you and your sweet family.”
  • “I know how much help this family will need as they figure out the new reality of their lives and I want to show them they are loved near and far.”
  • “My wife and I live in the neighborhood and we are both in disbelief and shock at the lack of regard for human life. No words can express our sympathy for what your lovely young family is going through.”
  • “From a friend of a friend who’s brother suffered a similar injury from a different cause. Sending strength.”
  • “We live in the neighborhood and have enjoyed watching the progress on your house and garden. We would be happy to lend a hand on your painting and landscaping projects as you recover. Best wishes to you. “

“It’s been difficult, just having so many question marks,” Caleb said. “We want to jump in, we want to try to convert his house and get a ramp in place and lower the work benches in his garage and all those sorts of things but at this point we just don’t know what the future holds.”

Caleb has been inundated with requests to help and is working to connect groups of people based on what they want to contribute. He said Jonathan has been working to repaint the house and needs a new roof and wheelchair ramps.

“As a family, we want to say thank you to everyone who has reached out,” Caleb said. “If anyone in the community is interested in helping in any of those capacities, or even has connections to someone who has gone through an incident like this and learned to live with alternative abilities, we would love to hear from you.”

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