A 93-year-old California man fatally shot a burglary suspect late last month, local media reports.
Deputies with the Riverside County Sheriff’s Office responded to a home on the 24000 block of Eucalyptus Ave. in the Moreno Valley on June 29 at about 12:30 a.m.
The 911 caller reported a burglary in progress.
The caller was identified as Joe Howard Teague, 93. He told deputies he foiled a robbery at his home and had several of the suspects at gunpoint.
Before police arrived on the scene, the suspects allegedly refused to cooperate with Teague’s instructions.
“I approached them to put them under citizen’s arrest. They wouldn’t adhere to that and then one of them came at me with a fishing pole,” Teague told reporters from KABC outside his home the following Thursday.
That perp has been identified as 33-year-old Joseph Ortega. Teague said Ortega and the other suspects also kept throwing things at him.
“It was just like somebody comes to a gunfight with a pocketknife, you know,” Teague said.
Fearing for his safety, Teague shot Ortega.
“Investigators have established that several individuals, including Ortega, were inside Teague’s property when a shooting occurred,” the sheriff’s department said.
Following the shooting, the other suspects fled the scene.
Teague was taken to the deputy’s office for questioning but was not arrested. Witnesses that also live in the neighborhood told police officers that Teague’s home has been broken into multiple times in the past.
A relative of Teague’s verified that he has been frustrated over being the victim of numerous home invasions. Sheriff’s department officials said it appears the shooting was justified but added that the investigation is ongoing.
“Based on the severity of Ortega’s medical condition, the Central Homicide Unit responded to the scene and assumed the investigation,” the sheriff’s department said.
Investigators are working to identify the other suspects, but no arrests have been made.
Ortega would not survive the encounter. He died days later at a local hospital.