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Police Beat: Orlando man sticks up for mango tree

June 26, 2014

On the evening of June 25, Jeremy Willis, 32, left his house to grab some tools when he saw a spectacled man with a gray ponytail whacking his mango tree with a stick. That man was Angel Oquendo Gonzalez, 56.

It’s not clear whether Gonzalez was angry at the tree or if he was just hungry for some fruit, but Willis wasn’t letting the abuse go unanswered. According to a police report, Willis demanded Gonzalez get off his property, and the stick-wielding man approached, yelling. Willis says he pushed him away and suddenly Gonzalez became a knife-wielding man.

Multiple witnesses, including Willis, his wife and brother, told police that Gonzalez said, “You will pay for that,” and produced a pocket knife. Willis says he latched onto him to avoid being stabbed, and his brother helped disarm Gonzalez, who stopped attacking trees and people and retreated on a bicycle toward Curry Ford Road. But the Willis family had already called the police. Officers set up a cordon and apprehended Gonzalez and the knife, which had been discarded on the sidewalk.

Willis told police he was willing to prosecute, so Gonzalez was charged with trespassing and aggravated assault. If plants could talk, though, there might have been an extra count against Gonzalez, and maybe an explanation of his beef with mangos.

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