Moreno Valley, CA – A 93-year-old man shot a home intruder early Wednesday morning after burglars repeatedly targeted his residence and stole his belongings.
“This is not the first time it happened. They’ve been breaking in very often,” the elderly man’s family member, Oscar Malma, told KABC. “It happened once on Friday…. And now this happens in the middle of the night.”
Malma said he believes the 93-year-old homeowner, Joe Teague, was specifically chosen as an easy target.
Teague recently lost his wife and lives alone, KNBC reported.
“They were looking for him. He’s an old, retired plumber. He has a lot of tools… he’s a musician as well, so he’s got a lot of musical instruments. Little by little, they’ve been ripping him off,” Malma told KABC.
Teague was at his house in the 24300-block of Eucalyptus Avenue when a group of burglars forced their way into the home at approximately 12:30 a.m. on June 29, KNBC reported.
“They parked at the curb and then they went back, kicked the door open and they went in,” he told KNBC. “I believe there was ladies and men… The big guy, he came at me with a fishing pole and the rest of them, they started throwing objects that was in the house at me.”
Teague said he told the intruders to leave, but they refused.
“I kept telling them, I have a shotgun with three shells in it,’ but I actually only had one,” Teague told KNBC. “And they kept throwing stuff at me.”
He said he fired a single round, hitting one of the intruders.
A witness reported seeing several other people running away on foot, according to KNBC.
Deputies arrived at the scene and found the suspect suffering from a gunshot wound, KABC reported.
He was transported to the hospital in critical condition and was not expected to survive, according to the news outlet.
He has been identified as 33-year-old Joseph Ortega, the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department (RCSD) said in a press release.
Investigators are still searching for additional suspects.
Malma said Teague and the suspect were inside Teague’s home when the shooting occurred, KABC reported.
He said police took Teague in for questioning, but that he doesn’t believe they will charge him for “defending his property.”
Malma said the elderly homeowner has called police in the past about the break-ins, but that officers weren’t able to respond quickly enough to apprehend the suspects, KABC reported.
“I don’t blame Joe. He’s been working all his life, he’s 93. He’s been working on his life and whatever little things he has, he needs to protect them,” Malma told KNBC.
Police have not disclosed how many break-ins have been reported at the man’s residence.
The RCSD said in the press release that Teague’s use of deadly force was justified.
The agency’s Central Homicide Unit is handling the ongoing investigation.