"Because I got jumped in my sleep,
I got off the street"
In May, Mike Montoya was beaten while sleeping at a boarded up motel in Salt Lake City. The attack spurred him give up his homeless lifestyle. "Because I got jumped in my sleep, I got off the street," Montoya said.
As he remembers it, Mike Montoya was sleeping when two young men -- one with a wooden bat -- beat him severely in May. When the homeless teenager woke up in a hospital, he was hurt so badly he couldn't chew.
He lost more than 20 pounds, was left with a 7-inch scar on the right side of his head and celebrated his 20th birthday in his hospital bed.
Both of his alleged attackers were people Montoya knew. They had also spent time on the streets.
He's not sure why they did it, but he's been told they had different answers for the police. "I think they were just high and they wanted to beat somebody," he said.
Homeless youth often speak proudly and defensively about their caring street families, made up of friends and allies. But those who are young and homeless can also be violent, or potential victims of street violence.
Montoya's story has a happy ending: Now he has a place to live, is receiving Social Security benefits linked to his schizophrenia, and is talking about going back to school. He wants to study astronomy.
Read the Salt Lake City Tribune article here.