Landscaper inspiring resilience after brutal attack in Avondale

Posted at 3:29 PM, Feb 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-12 12:35:07-05

AVONDALE, AZ — Leopoldo “Polo” Gomez is a 66-year-old landscaper in Phoenix. On Thursday, Feb. 4, Polo was robbed and brutally attacked while working at an apartment complex in Avondale. The attacker has been identified by the Avondale Police Department as Gabriel Gutierrez.

Gutierrez was allegedly involved in a series of violent crimes over the past week, including a deadly shooting, and has been taken into custody.

This story may contain images that may be graphic to some readers.

Polo lost his life savings and nearly his life last Thursday, but he refuses to give up his smile and positive outlook on life. He says his key to happiness is forgiveness.

“I would have given him money if he would have asked for it. It brought tears to my eyes, but the good thing is I'm alive. I didn't lose my life," said Gomez.

Polo’s strength and drive are admirable. He is back on the job barely a week after the attack.

“I have no choice but to help my family. I help my sister and nephews in Mexico.”

Polo says he was punched in the face with an object. He describes he was then kicked in the ribs, throat, and face as he laid defenseless on the ground. The attack happened in broad daylight.

“I was carrying the blower on my back, he knocked me out. I couldn’t get up with the weight on my back.”

He says he not only feared for his own life, but also worried about his family back in Mexico that he’s been supporting for 40 years.

“I'm the youngest's my duty to help,” expressed Gomez.

On the day of the attack, Polo was working alone, and the rest of the crew was a few yards away.

“For somebody to do that, it’s heartbreaking and it makes me super angry,” said Scott Shafer, Polo’s coworker and friend.

Shafer was one of the first ones to find Polo. He says he now worries about his medical bills.

“The ambulance ride, the hospital room stay. He’s the sweetest guy, he’s gentle, hardworking, he doesn’t deserve this,” expressed Shafer.

Polo’s friends described him as "old school" -- someone who doesn’t trust banks.

Polo says he carried thousands of dollars with him that day and that the money the attacker took was his life savings.

“I wanted to buy a house, but it won’t happen. It is what it is.”

Still, he won’t give up hope and continues working with a smile.

He has faith that one day he’ll be able to save for that house again and forgives his attacker.

“I hope he used it for something good and not for drugs. I will recover my money in three or four years.”

Money comes and goes, he says, but life -- you only have one.

ABC15 reached out to the Consulate General of Mexico in Phoenix and they have now met with Polo. They told ABC15 they will provide him with legal assistance through their network of lawyers.

If you would like to help Polo, a Gofundme has been set up here.