The former bodyguard of Jennifer Lopez and other high-profile celebrities was pepper sprayed at his NYCHA building after he confronted a group of teenagers over smoking marijuana, he told The Post on Tuesday.
Willy Gonzalez, 70, said the girl splashed him in the eye after he spotted about 17 children huddled together smoking weed in a stairwell inside Fulton Houses in Chelsea on Monday afternoon while he was taking out the trash of his Shih Tzu.
Gonzalez approached the group of intruders with a thick wooden stick, which he nicknamed “Walking High”, and told them to leave.
While most young people have fled, some have stayed.
One girl started taking pictures of Gonzalez, so he took out his phone before she slapped him. According to him, another girl used pepper spray.
“When my phone fell on the floor, I went to pick it up and then this girl splashed me. It caught my eye,” he said. “The guy behind me tried to grab me. It didn’t work.”
“This thing is burning like hell. It burns,” he said of the pepper spray.
Prior to the attack, Gonzalez said that the teens “gave me trouble like they had something stuck” even when he threatened to call the police.
The NYPD said the incident happened shortly before 12:30 p.m. Monday, and the ambulance service treated the victim with minor injuries at the scene.
The girl fled with others, authorities said, but Gonzalez said the alleged perpetrator returned on Tuesday.
He said he warned her, “You’ll be locked up.”
“I saw her. They’re on tape at the entrance,” he said, adding, “That’s disrespectful. These kids don’t care anymore.”
Gonzalez, a former Rikers Island guard for about a decade until the late 1980s, also guarded actor Tom Hanks, director Oliver Stone, and the late Joan Rivers atop J-Lo. He owns his own private detective company and is a former bodybuilder.
Groups of rowdy teenagers who don’t live in the building trespass and harass seniors, smoke joints and steal packages from Fulton Houses daily, Gonzalez said.
He added that this has been a problem for the past three to five years and most troublemakers come from a nearby school.
He fears that someone will get hurt, but has made it clear that he will not be afraid to stand up to the terrorizing youth.
“Not at all. I know my limits,” Gonzalez said. “I know how strong I am. I still bench 450 pounds. I’m very strong. I squat 600 pounds.”
But he emphasized: “I am not going to hit a minor. I’m not going to hit a minor.”
The NYPD released a photo of the suspect in a press release early Tuesday morning as the department turned to the public for help.