A concerned citizen in a South African suburb spotted four armed robbers entering his neighbor’s home and immediately took action, killing three. A fourth suspect escaped from the scene of the crime.
The swift response of the neighbor, a former policeman who did not want to be named, quite possibly saved the life of the home owner’s wife in the Welwitchia Avenue home in Durban North, South Africa.
The owner of the house, Carlos Duarte, was away at his company’s year-end function at Sun City when the incident occurred Thursday night. Duarte reportedly had been enjoying a Christmas dinner with his colleagues when he received a call from a neighbor, asking if they were okay. He was horrified to find out that something had gone very wrong at home.
Four armed men wearing balaclavas reportedly stormed the home and a gun battle ensued between the armed robbers and a neighbor. Friday morning saw Duarte standing outside his home, surveying the bullet-riddled pillars of his veranda, and cleaning up spent cartridges and blood.
Jubilation as citizen kills armed robbers https://t.co/ar7wh0muZQ
— IOL News (@IOL) November 14, 2015
The armed robbers reportedly had derailed the automatic gate on the property, and had parked in the driveway before entering the home. The men reportedly used hammers and a crowbar to rip the security gate on the home out of the wall before entering.
Duarte told the media the first thing his wife knew about the situation was when the men burst into the room, pointing guns at her. She was exercising on a treadmill at the time and the men pulled her off, demanding the keys to the safe. Veronica Duarte was then held hostage and locked in the pantry of the home.
House robbery victim’s hostage hell https://t.co/P8PLr2Bmtr pic.twitter.com/7q1UNtQ9gg
— POWER987 News (@POWER987News) November 13, 2015
Duarte told News24, his wife initially thought it was him at the door.
“When the door swung open she said in that instant she thought it was me. Then they were all around her with guns.”
He said the armed robbers pushed Veronica into the bedroom and “kept shouting at her ‘where are the f**king safe keys,’” adding that she told them where to find the safe, but explained the keys were with him. He added that his wife is now resting at his son’s house, and is still traumatized by the violent incident.
According to a statement from the local police, Duarte’s neighbor had heard a noise outside, and when he investigated, he saw an armed man standing at his neighbor’s door. The neighbor shouted at the man, who immediately turned and started firing his weapon at him.
According to a report by IOL, bullets were flying at the scene, and within a few minutes, two of the armed robbery suspects were dead, while a third suspect lay injured inside the home. The suspect later died of his injuries in hospital. The fourth armed robbery suspect managed to flee the scene.
According to Duarte, the neighbor said phones belonging to the armed robbers kept ringing as they lay there dead. It was theorized that this may have been the fourth suspect, trying to find his partners in crime.
Another neighbor in the Durban North suburb, who asked not to be identified, said they heard the gunshots but at first believed them to be Diwali fireworks. It was only when emergency vehicles started arriving at the scene that they realized something was wrong.
Following the incident, KwaZulu-Natal Police Commissioner Lieutenant General Mmamonnye Ngobeni said: “We applaud the commitment of the community member who assisted a fellow neighbor, which shows the success of community policing.”
According to Dave Campbell, who works for Marshall Security in the area, some of his officers recognized one of the suspects who lay dead at the scene of the armed robbery. They further recognized the blue VW Golf GTi the armed robbers were traveling in, which had recently been hijacked in the area.
In the car, police found a blue light, along with housebreaking tools such as crowbars and bolt cutters. The car had been parked in reverse in the driveway to ensure a quick getaway if the armed robbers had been successful.
Jacques Botha, a lawyer acting for the heroic neighbor, said two people had recognized the subjects at the scene, linking them to other armed robberies.
“This incident is a fantastic example of the positive aspects of lawful gun ownership. My client did society a favor.”
Botha went on to say he had often seen repeat offenders arriving back in jail, and said that when he asked them why they were back, they starting laughing.
According to South African Police Brigadier Jay Naicker, the suspects have not yet been officially identified and the fourth suspect remains at large.