DENVER — A man who was selling paletas, which are Mexican-styled fruit popsicles, is recovering after being beaten until he was unconscious at a school parking lot in Green Valley Ranch.
On June 11, Antonio Ramirez-Chavez, 64, spent his day selling paletas and snacks around the neighborhood near Florida Pitt Waller School.
He says just after 7:20 p.m., he got ready to go home and realized his truck battery died, so he asked a man at the school parking lot for a jump. He says after the man left, he was approached from behind by three or four suspects who demanded money. When Chavez refused, he says a woman punched him in the face. Other information on the suspects was not yet available.
He says he was kicked in the face, throat and neck until he blacked out. The criminals made off with his earnings for the day — $65. He says when he regained conscious strangers helped him clean up.
Bruises and cuts now cover Chavez's face.
A paleta man (ice cream man) is recovering after he was beaten until he lost consciousness.— adigtv (@AdiGTV) June 18, 2020
Antonio, 64, was packing up his ice cream cart for the day when 3-4 suspects attacked him. They made off with his earnings for the day, $65.
My story @DenverChannel10 pm pic.twitter.com/wWU6q5cIMn
"As a result, from this assault, I did go to Denver Health and was treated for fractures in my face and was told that I need to follow up for surgery," Chavez said through Raquel Aguilar with Denver Human Services, who translated for him.
Chavez moved to the United States 21 years ago and has spent the last decade selling paletas to make a living. He is the breadwinner and cares for his disabled wife and 9-year-old daughter.
Chavez was wary of reporting his assault to police and wasn't sure what the process entailed. It wasn't until a friend and coworker convinced him to file a police report that he came forward.
"The way things are right now, I wasn't aware how they (police) would treat community members based on their legal status," Aguilar translated for Chavez.
Mayor Michael Hancock called Chavez personally.
"We are going to do everything we can to find the people who attacked you the other day," Hancock said on the phone.
The mayor's office donated a food basket to Chavez and linked with Denver Human Services to help him with rent.
Christian Jimenez, deputy director at the Mayor's Office for community outreach, met with Chavez. He said he wants to remind community members that legal status does not play a role when reporting crimes.
"In the city of Denver, we don't enforce immigration law, our officers do not enforce immigration laws, so when someone comes to us to report a crime, we are going to seek justice," Jimenez said.
A Denver officer who took Chavez's assault and robbery report gave him $70 out of her pocket, according to DPD, but they did not release her name.
Chavez says he's in a lot of pain, but he's grateful the mayor went out of his way and reached out to assure him his case is under investigation. He hopes to return to work by next week.
The suspects remain at-large. DPD is asking anyone with information or video to reach out to Metro Denver Crime Stoppers at 720-913-7867.
Denver7 has verified a GoFundMe that benefits Antonio.