WSVN — He fought for America in the Vietnam War, and during that time he picked up a gun left by an enemy soldier who tried to kill him. But Davie Police took his enemy gun away from him and would not return it. Why? Let’s bring in Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser for the story.

Some people’s lives are defined by moments. Fredy Gutierrez’s life is defined by one year: the year he was fighting for the United States in Vietnam.

Fredy Gutierrez: “And on one of the occasions, on September 16, we were ambushed.”

Today, the veteran remembers his service to America with a war bunker in his home, filled with memorabilia from Vietnam.

Fredy Gutierrez: “Like this here I brought from Vietnam, that picture I brought from Vietnam. There are a couple things I brought from over there.”

One more thing was on his wall: a rifle with the bayonet still attached, which Fredy got after he survived that ambush by the Viet Cong.

Fredy Gutierrez: “It’s a war trophy. It’s an SKS 7.6-millimeter, and it was used by the enemy.”

Now, if Fredy looks familiar, here is why. After being in the United States for 50 years, in 2013 Fredy was told he was being deported back to Colombia. He was so upset, on Veterans Day he decided to go to the 595 overpass and hang himself.

Fredy Gutierrez: “I was in distress and I didn’t see any way out, and I have a lot of health issues. Me being deported would be sending me to die a slow death.”

Fortunately, Fredy was talked out of it, but on that day he went to commit suicide he brought his prized gun. If we zoom in you can see he attached an American flag to it, to fly over where he planned to hang himself. Davie Police seized the gun, and now, 16 months later, are telling him if he wants the gun back, he needs to get a judge to order them to return it.

Fredy Gutierrez: “And that is when I went to downtown to get the court order. To file the court order is like $500. I’m in disability, and $500…”

Now, before you think we have lost it, helping getting a gun back for a veteran who wanted to kill himself, know that Fredy is doing better, getting counseling, and the barrel on the gun has been welded shut. It cannot be shot.

Fredy Gutierrez: “It is inoperable, just memorabilia, doesn’t do anything. And it’s not even a weapon, and it is priceless to me. I can’t go and buy that anywhere, because of the circumstances of how I acquired it.”

Fredy wants his gun back, the one he treasures, the one taken from a soldier trying to kill him when he was a young soldier fighting for america in Vietnam.

Fredy Gutierrez: “I was hoping you all help me retrieve my rifle back and get it back to my hands before they dispose of it, because I know they have a deadline. They told me they would not hold it forever.”

Well, Howard, you know Fredy’s history. Legally, does he have a right to get a gun back that to him is priceless?

Howard Finkelstein: “If this gun could be fired, Fredy might have to get a judge to order it released, but legally, this is not considered a firearm. It’s just a piece of property, and the police have to give it back to Fredy, and he does not need a court order.”

We talked to Davie Police and didn’t get anywhere. We then spoke to their attorney and suggested that Davie check the gun to confirm that it does not qualify as a firearm. They did. Fredy got a call. “Come get your gun.”

Fredy Gutierrez: “So I ran and picked it up, and now I can hang it up on my wall like the rest of my memorabilia.”

Fredy got his war memento back. He is happy.

Fredy Gutierrez: “My room is complete now. That was my main piece. I want to thank you and everybody involved in Channel 7 for me recuperating my weapon. I’m very happy about it. It is irreplaceable.”

Glad Fredy is smiling. Many Vietnam vets have had it tough. As for your property, in general, if police seize it, and it’s not evidence in a case against you or someone else, they have to return it. And if it is evidence, after the case is finalized, then they have to return your property.

A problem seized control of your life? Wanna release it? Contact us. We have a weapon. It’s our determination, and a couple of law books. (Notice I didn’t say our weapon is our brains.)

With this Help Me Howard, I’m Patrick Fraser, 7News.

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