OAKLAND — More than 200 people came out late Saturday morning to buy ice cream and popsicles and make donations to support an ice cream vendor who was seen on video being robbed at gunpoint earlier this week.
Juan Alberto Diaz Carazas, 80, of Oakland, was pushing his ice cream cart in the 3900 block of E. 18th Street about 12:08 p.m Monday when a car stopped and two men got out, at least one armed with a gun. As seen on a video posted to social media, the men jostled him and took an unconfirmed amount of cash from him before fleeing in the vehicle.
He was not injured.
As word of the robbery spread online, support quickly emerged for Diaz. A pair of online fundraising pages had pledges totaling more than $40,000 as of Saturday afternoon. An update on one of the pages said donations would be accepted through Sunday or Monday before the money would be gathered and presented to Diaz.
On Saturday, as a heat wave raised temperatures across the region, Diaz was overwhelmed by people who wanted to buy out every single frozen treat he had as soon as he appeared at the Fruitvale Station Shopping Center parking lot in Oakland. Supporters had publicized their intention to buy out the ice cream stocks to help Diaz.
“I’m speechless,” Diaz, a native of Peru, told the Bay Area News Group in Spanish. “I don’t have the right words to thank (the community) for their support.”
Keith Lewis, an East Oakland native who runs a vinyl-wrapping business, handed Diaz $500 during the ice cream buyout.
“If i have the funds to support somebody else, just like everybody’s been supporting me in my business, I felt like that was the right thing to do,” said Lewis.”This is a good start to kind of, you know, get the community together.”
Police continue to search for the robbery suspects. Police and Crime Stoppers of Oakland are offering up to $2,500 in reward money for information leading to the arrests of the robbers. Anyone with information may call police at 510-238-3326 or Crime Stoppers at 510-777-8572.
More than a couple hundred people show up to support 80-year-old ice cream vendor at the Fruitvale Station Shopping Center parking lot in Oakland, Saturday morning. @EastBayTimes #icecream #icecreamvendor #robbedatgunpoint #victimofcrime #fundraiser #paletero pic.twitter.com/7BDQFZDgIY
— Ray Chavez (@rayinaction) July 22, 2023
Staff writer Harry Harris contributed to this report.