Police: Ice cream vendor attacked by teens

cwootson@charlotteobserver.comJuly 8, 2014 

— A man trying to sell ice cream was attacked by teens in the Hidden Valley neighborhood on Independence Day, according to police – a daytime assault that was recorded on video and later posted on YouTube.

Ermilio Saragosa told the Observer that he wasn’t hurt badly in the attack, which happened around 10:30 a.m. Friday on Canterwood Drive, near Tom Hunter Road.

Saragosa, 40, works most days at a Mexican restaurant but sells ice cream from a small cart for extra money a few days a week.

He said he did nothing to provoke the attack: “I was just walking with the cart and the ice cream.”

The 27-second video clip shows a teenage girl trying to open Saragosa’s cart. When he shuts the lid, the girl advances toward him, cursing and throwing punches. Two boys join in and also strike Saragosa, while a fourth person records video and eggs the attackers on.

The assailants got away with Saragosa’s wallet, $50 in cash and some ice cream.

On Tuesday, police said 16-year-old Daishaun Burner had been arrested and charged in connection with the assault. Burner’s exact charges and bond information weren’t available late Tuesday. A 13-year-old girl was also arrested in connection with the case, but her charges weren’t released because North Carolina law prevents police from disclosing criminal charges for children under 16.

One version of the YouTube video had been viewed more than 3,400 times by Tuesday evening, according to the site.

Hector Vaca, a community organizer and the Charlotte director for Action NC, said members of the city’s Hispanic and immigrant communities worry they are easier targets for criminals because of language barriers, police inaction or both. He said his organization has documented other cases where immigrants were targeted.

He said the brazenness of the crime against Saragosa – a daytime attack that was recorded and posted on a video-sharing website – could indicate the assailants weren’t worried about being arrested or charged.

“The immigrant victims that I’ve met, they feel that anybody who attacks them can get away with it because the immigrant victims are automatically (viewed as) the guilty ones,” Vaca said. “They feel that other people get away with crimes because nobody cares about (immigrants).”

Editor's note: The video below contains graphic language.

NOTE: VIDEO CONTAINS GRAPHIC LANGUAGE.

Wootson: 704-358-5046; Twitter: @CleveWootson

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