DAVIE (CBSMiami) – A military veteran who threatened to hurt himself brought traffic to a halt in I-595/Turnpike interchange Monday morning.
The Florida Highway Patrol said negotiators were brought in to talk with the man, identified as 59-year old Fredy Gutierrez from Sunrise, who had threatened to kill himself.
Davie police said Gutierrez, who served in Vietnam, was upset because he is facing deportation and has an upcoming hearing in which he has appealed the deportation order.
“This man is a veteran, he has some personal issues that he’s trying to resolve,” said Davie police Captain Dale Engle.
Gutierrez has made a public cry for help before. Earlier this year on Facebook, Gutierrez recorded a 3-and-a-half minute video describing his troubles and pleading for help.
“I have trouble adjusting to civilian life and suffer from post traumatic stress which back then was never mentioned,” Gutierrez said in the post, adding that he has struggled with substance abuse and anger management issues.
Gutierrez said in the Facebook post that he has hepatitis C and is currently getting treatment through the Department of Veterans Affairs. He said he wants to stay in the United States where he has lived the majority of his life and raised his daughter.
“Deporting me will sentence me to a slow death without surrounding family,” Gutierrez said.
Gutierrez wife told CBS4 that the threat of deportation has been hanging over his head for years. She said he did not appear for a naturalization hearing in 1973. He also has a minor offense on his record. In 2002 he was charged with threatening a public servant. She added that he had been undergoing counseling at the High Point treatment center.
Gutierrez wife said her husband came to the U.S. in 1965 when he was just 11-years old. He joined the Army and was honorably discharged in 1977. She said she can’t believe the way he’s being treated by the immigration department and faulted the Veterans Affairs department for not being more helpful.
Police said they received a call around 8:15 a.m. about a man stopped on the side of the Florida Turnpike southbound ramp to eastbound I-595.
Chopper 4 over the scene spotted Gutierrez near a white panel van straddling the guard rail. He had a hand written sign on the van which read “HIPPOCRATE (sic) TRAITORS.”
Leaning against the guard rail near Gutierrez, who was dressed in fatigues, was a rifle with an American flag sticking out of its barrel.
Gutierrez’s attorney, Michelle Sanchez, told CBS 4 News that her client had become increasingly desperate in recent days, complaining that he needed health care and other services that he was unable to receive because his legal status was up in the air.
“Over the weekend, something sprung and he did that today,” she said. “It’s very unfortunate.”
Sanchez said that she believes two recent immigration rulings might pave the road for Gutierrez to remain in the U.S. and she plans to file paperwork asking a judge to allow Gutierrez to be allowed to stay.
“All of a sudden traffic stopped and police cars pulled right in front of everyone and all of a sudden I just saw lots of men with guns,” said Michelle Decarion. “A really intense morning just seeing the cops, really distressed and concerned.”
“You could see the van there with the guy with his leg hanging over the wall and some cops with sniper rifles on him,” said Barry McCraw.
Police closed all westbound and eastbound lanes of I-595 between the Turnpike and Davie Road around 8:30 a.m. Also closed to traffic were all northbound and southbound lanes of the Turnpike between Griffin Road and Sunrise Boulevard.
“Crazy, the cops going back and forth telling people to back up on 595 so it’s crazy out there,” said Lori Ferguson.
Davie police and a Broward Sheriff’s SWAT team assisted the FHP in resolving the situation.
Gutierrez smoked a cigarette and had a beer while talking with negotiators on his cell phone.
“It’s just a shame what people do to hurt other people and make this kind of mess,” said McCraw.
Around 10 a.m., both eastbound and westbound lanes of I-595 were reopened. The Turnpike, however, remained closed between Hollywood Boulevard and Sunrise Boulevard.
On the ground workers and pedestrians evacuated from the danger zone. Anyone within shooting distance from the bridge forced to back up. As people sat and watched, the man tied a rope around his neck around 10:30 a.m, the other end tied to the van.
“I think it is sad, he needs help,” said McCraw.
“It’s terrible,” said Decarion. “Everyone should get the help that they need.”
According to police, Gutierrez never intended to jump off the overpass. Instead he had planned to hang himself.
Just after 11 a.m., Gutierrez took the rope off his neck and walked toward a Davie police Special Response team in a vehicle where he surrendered. He was taken into custody and placed under the Baker Act for observation.
Police suspect no criminal charges will be filed.