Suicidal Veteran Who Shut Down I-595 Once Threatened Broward Judge
On November 11 -- Veteran's Day -- 59-year-old Sunrise man Fredy Gutierrez climbed onto an overpass with a rifle as morning rush-hour traffic flowed below on I-595. Police scrambled to the scene. Miles of traffic stalled. For the next few hours, as Gutierrez drank a beer, put a noose around his neck, and talked about killing himself, police negotiators tried to coax him down.
When the standoff was over, media reports explained the Colombia-born man was a troubled Vietnam vet who was desperate over possible deportation, a sob story that courted sympathy. Some media reports mentioned he had 15 prior arrests, from growing marijuana plants to assault. None dug up arguably the darkest spot on his record: a 2002 arrest for threatening a public official.
New Times recently obtained court records related to that arrest. They show that in 2002, Gutierrez was involved in a nasty child custody case with his ex-wife. On September 16 of that year, he dialed the suicide-prevention hot line First Call for Help, according to a police report. "I'm not suicidal. I'm homicidal," Gutierrez told the operator.
He went on to explain he would kill his ex and the judge presiding over the case, Broward Circuit Judge Julie Koenig.
"He then talked about decapitating his ex-wife, and he then changed his mind and he said he would make her suffer," the report says.
"The defendant told the counselor that he didn't want to go to jail for something that he hasn't done yet and that if the counselor called the police and he ends up in jail and going to prison, when he gets out, he will seek revenge."
When police spoke with Gutierrez's anger management counselors, they advised that his threats should be treated seriously. He was arrested and charged with corruption by threats against a public official.
In a handwritten plea to the judge in his criminal proceedings, Gutierrez later claimed he "never had any intention of carrying out" the threats. "I said those things out of desperation and in hopes of having the judge removed from presiding over my child custody case," he stated.
Although Gutierrez was ordered deported because of his arrests, he was given a stay in 2001 because he was a veteran. Subsequent arrests led to a renewed order for his deportation, which Gutierrez is appealing. His attorneys declined to comment.
Send your story tips to the author, Kyle Swenson.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss New Times Broward-Palm Beach's biggest stories.