EAU CLAIRE — An Eau Claire man threatened his girlfriend and twice pointed a gun at her head, police say.

Joseph C. Mendez, 41, 522 Dodge St., was charged Monday in Eau Claire County Court with felony counts of strangulation and suffocation, bail jumping, second-degree recklessly endangering safety, possession of methamphetamine and possession of a firearm by an outstate felon.

Mendez also faces misdemeanor counts of disorderly conduct, battery and pointing a firearm at another person.

A $1,000 cash bail was set for Mendez, which prohibits him from having contact with the woman.

Mendez returns to court Tuesday, Oct. 26, for a preliminary hearing.

According to the criminal complaint:

An Eau Claire police officer met with the woman, who said she had been living with Mendez at the Evenox Motel on South Hastings Way. They got kicked out of the motel on Wednesday and then went to visit one of Mendez’s friends at the AmeriVu Inn and Suites on South Hastings Way.

While in the parking lot at the AmeriVu Inn, the woman said they got into an argument about being kicked out of the Evenox Motel.

At one point, Mendez hit the woman across her face, pulled out a black handgun, pointed it at her head and said, “I should shoot you right now.”

The woman said Mendez then put the gun to his head and talked about shooting himself, but the she was able to talk him out of doing so.

The woman ended up in the hospital the next day with a mental episode. She said she is very fearful of Mendez and believes he would kill her.

The woman then spoke about other incidents of abuse that occurred late last year at the Evenox Motel.

On one occasion, the woman said, Mendez dislocated her right shoulder. On another occasion, Mendez “sucker-punched” her with his right fist, causing her vision to go black and possibly losing consciousness.

The woman said she went to an Eau Claire hospital Oct. 7 following an incident with Mendez. After getting into an argument about his job, Mendez pulled her hair, put his knee on her chest and squeezed her neck for at least 10 seconds. She said she could not breathe and her vision briefly turned white.

During the same incident, Mendez pointed a handgun at her head and said he would shoot her before turning the gun and shooting himself if she ever left him.

The woman said Mendez normally keeps the gun in a black duffle bag in the trunk of her car.

Police arrested Mendez on Friday. He denied hitting the woman or pointing a gun to her head.

The black handgun was found at a residence on Dodge Street inside a duffle bag owned by Mendez. The bag also contained three boxes of ammunition.

If convicted of the felony charges, Mendez could be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison.

Contact: 715-833-9207, dan.holtz@ecpc.com