AURORA, Colo. — A late night stop at an Aurora gas station was supposed to be quick for Rimel.
He'd made the stop on the night of July 23 with the goal of filling his gas tank after getting a hair cut from a fellow Columbian. Rimel has only been in the United States since March and said he was in desperate need of a haircut.
When Rimel stopped that night at the Rocket Gas Station, located at 1100 S. Havana St., he sent his friend inside to pay for the gas. It wasn't until he looked up that he noticed a man was yelling at his friend, trying to push him around.
Rimel told Denver7 he called his friend back outside and eventually the man began attacking him. He said the man was extremely aggressive, eventually grabbing the gas pump and dousing Rimel in gasoline.
The suspect tried lighting Rimel on fire, eventually stealing his car keys and even throwing a rock at his back car window.
Chris Martinez, who's worked at the gas station for about six months, told Denver7 he drove into work just as the suspect was leaving.
"I walked into the store, and right away I could smell gas everywhere," Martinez said.
He went to the back office and watched the entire attack on the station's surveillance video.
"He comes into the store, opens the door like it's bloody murder, and walks in and acts normal at first," Martinez said. "But once the customer, who was speaking Spanish on the phone, approached the counter, he started, you know, getting very, very aggravated."
Rimel said during the attack, his biggest fear was turning his back on the suspect. He said the suspect was bigger than he was, and if he were to get him on the floor, he would've been more afraid for his life.
Martinez said he's seen a lot of disturbing incidents at work, but now he finds himself afraid for his Spanish-speaking customers.
"I play music in the store, most of the time in Spanish. I speak Spanish to most of the customers. And for them to feel or see that, you know, someone got poured gas on them just for speaking Spanish is very, very frightening, you know?" said Martinez.
Aurora Police Department detectives are still trying to identify the suspect. They are investigating this as a bias-motivated crime.
Anyone with information is asked to call 303-627-1661 or submit a report to firstname.lastname@example.org.