Gunmen ambushed a family from Aurora early Monday on their way to spend the holidays with relatives in Mexico, leaving the driver in the hospital with multiple gunshot wounds.
The 52-year-old man was driving through the Mexican state of Zacatecas with his 19-year-old daughter and 81-year-old father when they were taken off the road and attacked by unidentified bandits at around 3 a.m., a relative told the Chicago Sun-Times.
The attackers robbed the group at gunpoint and shot the driver three times — twice in one knee and once in the hip.
“They took everything but their pants,” the driver’s wife said.
He was airlifted to a nearby hospital hours later and remains there under the protection of local police, as do his daughter and father.
“We’re afraid the people who did this will come back and finish the job since they weren’t wearing masks and they saw their faces,” the man’s wife said.
The League of United Latin American Citizens is helping the family get back across the border. The driver and his daughter are U.S. citizens; the 81-year-old has a green card.
“We’re working with the Zacatecas state government and the Mexican consulate in Chicago to get them into Texas as soon as possible,” said LULAC representative Marlene Acosta.
The wife, a cook at a Mexican supermarket, said she stayed behind in Aurora “to work and pay the bills.” She found out about the attack only after her daughter called from a borrowed cellphone at around 8 a.m. Monday morning.
“Right now I’m calmer than I was in the morning, but my hands are tied. I can’t do anything from here,” she said.
She said her husband, who works in landscaping and masonry, may need reconstructive surgery on his knee, which could sideline him from work for months.
The couple has lived in Aurora for 30 years; they also have a 27-year-old daughter and a 23-year-old son.
“I didn’t think expect any of this to happen during Christmas,” she said. “I have no other choice but to be strong and keep going for my kids. They’re hurting right now.”
Carlos Ballesteros is a corps members of Report for America,a not-for-profit journalism program that aims to bolster Sun-Times coverage of Chicago’s South Side and West Side.