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Family 'praying for recovery' after brutal attack of shopping center worker in Carlsbad

Family 'praying for recovery' after brutal attack of shopping center worker in Carlsbad
Posted at 4:56 PM, Dec 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-27 22:09:05-05

CARLSBAD, Calif. (KGTV) - The family of an Oceanside man is searching for answers after he was brutally assaulted while working outside a Carlsbad theater last week.

“He's fighting. He’s fighting for his life,” said Natalia McInnis.

Five days later, a daughter's shock and disbelief linger.

“He was just doing his job,” said McInnis, daughter of 68-year-old Aureo Duque.

Last Wednesday morning, just before 10:30 a.m., Duque, a longtime maintenance worker at the Plaza Paseo Real, was picking up trash just outside the Cinepolis theater.

According to sources, surveillance video shows a man rushing up to him, pushing him to the ground, and kicking his head repeatedly, before running off.

Theater workers say a moviegoer followed him and helped police locate him a short distance away.

Police arrested 28-year-old Patrick Ferncase. Duque was rushed to a hospital with severe head injuries.

“We just never thought something like this would ever happen,” said a tearful McInnis.

McInnis says her father, a grandfather of 12, is a ‘great dad and awesome grandfather who lived to provide for his family.’

Duque remains in critical condition and in a coma.

“The chances of him waking up are pretty slim. Even if he does wake, he’s just not going to be the same,” said McInnis. "We’re praying and trying to stay hopeful … We’re also preparing for the worst.”

As a family waits, the investigation is ongoing. Police continue to look for additional witnesses. McInnis hoping anyone with information will come forward.

“We just want justice for our dad,” said McInnis.

Ferncase was arraigned Monday afternoon, pleading not guilty to attempted murder and other charges. A GoFundMe campaign has been set up to help the family with medical expenses.