BROWNSVILLE — Missing Harlingen attorney Ernesto Gonzales still has not shown up in court for a protective order he filed against five members of his family.
After hearing some of the family’s issues during a hearing yesterday morning, retired Judge Robert Garza told the family to try to locate Gonzales.
“I know there are a lot of anger issues … and I’m not saying it’s not important, but I think the situation with (Gonzales) trumps everything,” Garza said.
Gonzales went missing July 18, five days after filing for a protective order against extended family members. In an affidavit, he said he had to carry a hidden, unloaded pistol in his truck.
“I fear for my life,” he wrote.
According to the affidavit, Gonzales had a confrontation with some family members on June 21, the day he learned his mother suffered two “mini strokes.”
He called a doctor, he said, and was advised to call EMS.
“My siblings kept yelling at me that our mother was not going to be taken to the hospital,” he said in the affidavit.
His sister, Mary Ann Vilafana, said she was concerned about Gonzales’ mental well-being prior to his disappearance.
“He was acting out of the ordinary. We were trying to get help for him,” Vilafana said. “And all we want to do now is find my brother, because we love him. We were born and raised in a Christian family, and I love my brother and I love my sister (Alice).”
Vilafana said the protective order was “wrong.”
“If you’ve read the detailed PO, I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe on these POs, and they’re absolutely wrong,” Vilafana said.
Vilafana said Gonzales was showing signs of mental distress about two months prior to going missing.
“Would you leave your family or son without saying anything? Would you leave your horses or dogs? Would you leave your job responsibilities and just go out there where no one would find you?” Vilafana said.
Initially, the family was concerned that something happened with one of his clients. Gonzales defended criminals, Vilafana said.
“It’s a scary thing to happen, a scary thing to be around. Our concern when he went missing was, ‘Oh my god, what happened?’” Vilafana said.
The family will appear in court on Aug. 30 for another hearing regarding the protective order.
In the courtroom, Alice said she feared for her life and was “viciously attacked” at her mother’s funeral.
The family expressed to Garza that the protective order should never have gone to court. It was a family matter, they said.
“You know, a brother and sister will fight and, sometimes, you adults are still in a mental state of being 3 or 4 years old and never really grew up,” Rick Gonzales said. “… And people make mistakes.”