By Jennifer McRae

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (CBS4)– The man who shot and killed a middle school student in an alley in Englewood more than two years ago has been sentenced to 32 years in prison. An Arapahoe County judge sentenced Antonio Pulido Mendez, 19, for the death of Jonah Hirsch, who was only 13 years old when he was murdered.

Antonio Mendez (credit: Arapahoe County)

On July 14, 2019, Mendez and three others met Jonah and his older cousin in the alley. According to prosecutors, Jonah and the cousin expected to sell drugs to Mendez and the others. But Mendez and the other three set up the drug deal with the intent to rob Jonah and his cousin.

Mendez shot Jonah in the arm and the chest with a 9mm handgun. Jonah died at the scene. Mendez shot the cousin in the neck and he survived.

“This defendant made reckless, stupid decisions,” said Chief Deputy District Attorney Andrew Steers in a statement. “He chose to bring a loaded gun to a robbery and pull the trigger. Today he faces the consequences for his actions.”

(credit: CBS)

Mendez pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree murder and one count of attempted first-degree murder on Aug. 3, 2021. He was sentenced on Nov. 9.

“The intent was never to buy drugs – it was to rob the victims, who were not armed,” Senior Deputy District Attorney Daniel Warhola said during sentencing. “Jonah was shot through both lungs and his heart. What this defendant did is not allowed, cannot be tolerated and must be punished.”

“What brought us here is a tragedy – poor choices, poor decisions, and now consequences for those,” Judge Weishaupl said in a statement. “Jonah deserved the opportunity to learn and grow and engage with the world, and he will never be able to do that.”

Jennifer McRae