If you enjoy news about avocados, daily life in the Bronx, or unorthodox objects used as weaponry—or any combination of the above—you’re likely familiar with the video clip below. It shows two men attacking a bodega worker by throwing avocados at him, breaking his jaw and leaving him with cuts across his face. The incident reportedly stemmed from a misunderstanding over a food request and took place in late May. After weeks of searching, the New York Police Department were able to identify the men and arrest them in mid-June. Both were charged with assault.
The pair—Brad Gomez, 28 years old and allegedly the first to throw an avocado here, and Jestyfer Henriquez, 25 years old and the one wearing a denim vest—were identified as former college baseball players. The New York Daily News included it in their headline, noting that Gomez had played for Monroe College and Henriquez for Onondaga Community College.
For Henriquez, that information seems to check out. But if you start to investigate the claim regarding our main fruit-hurler Gomez here—as USA Today’s Ted Berg did in an excellent act of public service journalism today—it starts to fall apart. The Daily News story says that it got the information on Gomez’s baseball career from his mother. But the only record of a “Gomez” on the Monroe baseball team during the years he was supposedly attending school was a Vladimir Gomez, not Brad Gomez. So the Daily News noted that Gomez’s given name is actually Vladimir.
Except! The Vladimir Gomez who played for Monroe College during the 2012 and 2013 seasons was right-handed. Our produce pitcher? He threw lefty. And some even more compelling evidence: Vladimir Gomez is now playing in the independent Pacific Association out in California as a middle infielder for the Vallejo Admirals. While he didn’t join the team until a few days after the avocado-centric aggression, he made appearances in games both on the day that Brad Gomez was arrested and the day he was indicted. Finally, the piece of proof that should have stopped all this before it ever got far enough to sweep an innocent indy-leaguer up in its green web of terror: the court says it has nothing to suggest that Brad Gomez’s given name is Vladimir.
“The kid that threw the avocados never played for me,” Monroe head coach Luis Melendez told USA Today. “Never. I’ve never had a Brad Gomez with me. I have had Vladimir Gomez.... He’s a wonderful kid. He would never have done that.”
There you have it. Vladimir Gomez, middle infielder for the Vallejo Admirals, is an innocent man. Brad Gomez, alleged avocado slinger, will appear in court in October. Please keep it straight.