VILLA DE COS, Zacatecas (WLS) -- A 52-year-old Aurora man was shot during a violent robbery on a Mexican road, according to local officials. His daughter and 81-year-old father were also with him during the ambush.
Jose Luis Gutierrez, 52, and his 19-year-old daughter Sofia live in Aurora, family friend Marlen Acosta told ABC7. The pair recently drove from Chicago to Texas, where they picked up 81-year-old Jose de Jesus Gutierrez. The three were then reportedly headed to Jalisco, a southwestern Mexican state, to visit relatives.
On the way there, the group was attacked in Zacatecas, a state just north of Jalisco, according to a Monday news release from the Zacatecas Office of Public Safety.
Five or six men beat Jose Luis and shot him three times. The 52-year-old was airlifted to a hospital, where he remains under police protection.
Sofia and Jose de Jesus were left at a separate location, without any of their possessions. Their passports were also stolen.
"We're not people with money. Why would anyone do this to us?" asked Alejandra Gomez-Gutierrez, Jose Luis' wife. "We don't deserve this, especially at Christmas."
She said the group had been driving slowly because Jose Luis was getting tired, so they pulled over. That was when an SUV cut in front of them.
The League of United Latin American Citizens is assisting family in the Chicago area with legal advice and filing paperwork with U.S. authorities in Mexico after the incident. Federal officials are in the process of trying to get the family home as soon as it is medically safe to do so.
In an alert last week, the Department of State warned travelers to reconsider trips to Zacatecas, saying violent crime and gang activity were common there.
Dual nationals crossing the border by car to visit family over the holidays are often targeted, according to the family's lawyer.
"They don't target you based on your car. They target you simply because you come from the U.S., and they know that you probably are going to have gifts, you're going to have valuables," Manuel Cardenas said.
U.S citizens driving through Mexico are cautioned to do so only during daytime hours and to use the tollways, rather than the free highways, which often have very little traffic and are not patrolled by state police.
Aurora father, daughter beaten, robbed while driving through Mexico