THORNTON, Colo. — "If you are watching, I promise you, we forgive you. Life is about forgiveness and we understand. But do the right thing. Come forward."
Those were the words Javier Osvaldo Jacquez had for the suspect accused of assaulting his 69-year-old father, Manuel Osvaldo Jacquez-Machado, who died the day after Christmas, when he was attacked in the parking lot of Thirsty's in Thornton.
Javier said his father was a husband, father, brother, grandfather, friend and the joy of the party for people who knew him. He came to the United States in 1972 and became a hard-working U.S. citizen, Javier said. He had just retired from working downtown, where he often gave food to people experiencing homelessness. He had recently spent more time soaking up his passions for art, gardening and photography.
On an evening a month and one day ago, he died in the hospital of his injuries from an attack the night before in the pub parking lot along the 1200 block of E. 104th Avenue.
Based on the investigation, witness testimonies and surveillance footage, the suspect pulled into the parking lot at 9:45 p.m. on Christmas and parked behind Manuel's car, Det. Kevin Gifford with the Thornton Police Department explained. He never got out or went inside the bar. Manuel finished playing pool — which he did despite pain from rheumatoid arthritis — and left the bar at 9:52 p.m. He started his car and for whatever reason, it rolled back a bit and there was a small collision with the suspect's car, Det. Gifford said.
The suspect got out of the car and began screaming at Manuel. Manuel, who had a hard time walking due to RA, got out of his car and started to make his way to the suspect in a non-aggressive manner, Det. Gifford said. He did not raise his voice as he approached the suspect, who then assaulted Manuel. He was punched and kicked at least once before the suspect left the parking lot, where Manuel was lying unconscious, around 9:54 p.m.
Manuel was transported to a hospital where he died the following day. He left behind a wife, two children including Javier, two in-laws, and six grandchildren.
Javier said his father, due to the impact and brain bleeding, was not conscious when he was in the hospital, so his family was robbed of any final conversations with Manuel. While he was on life support, Javier and his family spoke to him, hoping he could hear their words.
He said even as his family suffers from this loss, love will prevail.
"Even just this last week, when we had the funeral services for my father, that's the one thing I pushed — I don't want people to be angry," Javier said. "Yes, it was a senseless act. Yes, it was my father. But, as far as moving forward, in order for us as a family to get through the grieving process, we can't sit with anger in our heart. That's not the right thing. It's not."
He said he hopes that the suspect, or somebody who knows the suspect, will do the right thing.
"But I know for a fact that if I allow myself to forgive this gentleman for this act that he did, we can get some resolution and get some closure," Javier said.
The suspect is described as a thin white man standing between 5 feet and 5 feet, 8 inches tall. At the time of the attack, he had reddish-blonde hair that fell just past his shoulders and a reddish-blonde beard of medium length. He was driving either a 2014-2018 Jeep Cherokee or a 2017-2021 Jeep Compass that is bright red. It had a black decal on the hood and either a large rack or rooftop tent on the top. Investigators believe it had a Colorado license plate.
Det. Gifford said he doesn't believe Manuel was targeted, but that the incident stemmed from the minor collision, which resulted in very minor damage to Manuel's vehicle.
"I know somebody has to know something out there," Gifford said. "Please reach out to us and give us this information... This isn't just an everyday person — this is a coward that we're talking about."
Anybody with information on this case is asked to call the Thornton Police Department at 720-977-5030 or Crimestoppers at 720-913-7867.