Charges dismissed after Winston-Salem ice cream shop owner mistakenly arrested for Texas robbery

Piedmont Triad News

GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) — The owner of a Winston-Salem ice cream shop can breathe a sigh of relief now that the district attorney has acknowledged that his arrest was a case of mistaken identity.

On Tuesday, the District Attorney’s Office filed for a voluntary dismissal and confirmed what 21-year-old Johnny Gonzalez has been saying all along: He is not Jimmy Gonzales.

On Oct. 12, Gonzalez, owner of Sabor Tropical Ice Cream, was in court for a traffic violation when a deputy put him in handcuffs and told him he was wanted on a warrant out of Texas.

The deputy said Gonzalez was the suspect in a June 9 robbery with a deadly weapon in Austin, Texas. Gonzalez was taken jail, but when he finally got to look at the indictment, he realized what happened.

“When I got into the jail, they gave me the paper, and I say to the officer, ‘This isn’t me.’ He looked at me with confusion in his eyes,” Johnny said.

The indictment had the right address, but the name listed was “Jimmy Ray Gonzales.” The first names are different, and the last names end differently as well; Johnny’s last name ends with a “z,” while Jimmy’s ends with an “s.”  

Gonzalez spent the night in jail, and the next day, his attorney argued that this was a case of mistaken identity. The prosecutor argued that Jimmy could be an alias and that the dates of birth and addresses matched for both Jimmy and Johnny. But Johnny was not in Texas. He hadn’t even left Winston-Salem.  

“His business has security cameras to show that he was here when the crime took place,” they explained.  

On Oct. 13, Johnny was released on a bond related to his traffic violation charge and returned to his ice cream shop.

“When I got out, I came straight here. I came to work. I wanted some sense of normality. Of maybe it was all a dream,” Johnny said.

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