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Ice cream vendor roughed up during robbery attempt

A 69-year-old ice cream vendor was jumped and assaulted Monday by three robbers who were caught by police shortly after the noon incident near West 19th Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Way.

Lt. Matt Williams of the Merced Police Department said Guadalupe Chidaz of Merced was treated at the scene by Riggs Ambulance Service paramedics and released. Omar Ward, 18, Jimmie Brewer, 25, and a 17-year-old boy were arrested on charges of aggravated assault and strong-armed robbery.

Ward and Brewer remained in Merced County Jail Monday night in lieu of $69,000 bail each, according to a correctional official, and the teen was booked into Merced County Juvenile Hall.

Williams said Chidaz was pushing his ice cream cart in the 200 block of West 19th Street near Martin Luther King Jr. Way when he was approached by three men. Ward, Brewer and the boy reached into the ice cream cart and tried to forcibly take items from Chidaz.

When Chidaz tried to fight them off, one of them reached into the moneybox attached to the cart, and grabbed what little change Chidaz had earned for the day. Chidaz, having pushed the cart around all day through the 101-degree heat, was not willing to give up his money and tried to defend himself.

Williams said Brewer picked up a metal scooter that he found lying nearby and hit Chidaz over the head with it, striking him hard enough to break the scooter. Brewer's accomplices then beat Chidaz until they were able to overpower him and ran away from the area.

Officer Ryan Rasmussen spotted one of the robbers a few blocks away as he was removing his shirt to alter his appearance. With help from some witnesses and public utility employees who pointed out the suspects' direction of travel, officers were able to catch the men.

What disgusts him the most, Williams said, was that Chidaz was just trying to make a living when he was targeted by the robbers.

Merced police responded to 152 robberies last year and 165 the prior year, according to statistics submitted to state and federal law enforcement authorities earlier this year.

Associate Editor Doane Yawger can be reached at (209) 385-2485 or dyawger@mercedsun-star.com.

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