WEST PALM BEACH, FL (WFLX) - He was on the street selling tamales, trying to make extra money for his family. But, now, 69-year old Pablo Lopez, Sr. is fighting for his life after being beaten and robbed. Wednesday a young man accused of the attack, faced a judge.
"Pablo's in a coma, he's fighting for his life," said Lopez' wife, Flora Velasquez, speaking in Spanish, at the couple's West Palm Beach apartment. "The doctors tell me it will be nothing more than a miracle if God saves his life."
The crime happened Sunday afternoon, February 22, on Pinewood Avenue in West Palm Beach, near the Boys and Girls Club. Police reports indicate at least two men demanded money from Lopez. When he refused to hand it over, detectives say one of the men punched Lopez in the head, then grabbed his wallet and money.
Twenty-year-old Michael McCatty made his first court appearance, charged with the beating and robbery of Lopez. Judge Peter Blanc set bond at $100,000 for each of the two counts against McCatty. Police are still looking for a second suspect, Kevin McCatty, brother of the man in custody. Detectives say they also want Joshua Williams for questioning only.
Lopez' family members say they are pleased with the arrest and hope all involved are brought to justice. "The idea of an older man being attacked that way," said Lopez' 30-year old son, Florencio Lopez, who's come from California to be at his father's side.
Velasquez, Lopez' wife, adds, "It's not right what they've done to us Latinos. We all have to be worth something in this country." Helping her cope, Velasquez says members of the community have stepped forward with food and money for her family. Velasquez says she doesn't know how to thank everyone.
Most of the help has come from students and adults connected to the two schools where Lopez' 10-and 14-year-old sons attend. Mr. Lopez has a total of 11 children, who live in different parts of the United States and in Lopez' native country, Guatemala.