92-year old homeowner Antonio Vanacore joined the fray after seeing his caregiver fighting with an intruder.
New Rochelle police detectives are investigating a home invasion and attempted armed robbery in the North End of New Rochelle for possible links to similar cases in Mount Vernon and Pelham Manor, sources tell Talk of the Sound.
On Thursday afternoon around 1 pm, a white or hispanic male followed a woman into a house at 3 Cadillac Road in New Rochelle. Also in the house was the 92-year old homeowner. Once inside the home, the intruder brandished a hand gun and pointed it at the woman. The woman, a home health care worker, grabbed the gun and fought with the man. The homeowner joined in the struggle. The suspect fled the scene in a black pick up truck with New York State license plate F-7447. Nothing was stolen. Vanacore suffered severe bruises on both arms.
Antonio Vanacore, a retired carpenter and builder, has owned his home for 50 years. He built the homes on Cadillac Drive and Saldo Ciricle and is well-known to his neighbors.
Vanacore, who uses a walker to get around and relies on a hearing aid, said he was sitting in his kitchen upstairs when he heard a commotion in the house. He got up and found his long-time caregiver, a woman who appeared to be in her sixties, fighting with an unknown man in the foyer of the home just below a flight of stairs. Vanacore says he ran down the stairs and began punching the man, demonstrating good boxing form as he described landing blow after blow to the intruder's body.
"God gave me the strength to go down those stairs and punch this guy", said Vanacore.
"I was shouting call the police, call the police", said the caregiver, who asked not to be identified.
Vanacore broke away from the intruder and ran back up the stairs to reach a telephone.
"I ran to call 911", said Vanacore. "The guy followed me up the stairs and pushed the button to shut off the phone". The intruder then ran back down the stairs, passed the caregiver and ran out the front door.
Asked why she fought with the intruder, the caregiver said she had seen guns on TV and thought the gun the man was holding was not a real gun so she grabbed at it.
"I thought the gun was a toy pistol and grabbed it", she said. "When I grabbed it, it broke off in my hand".
A small piece of the plastic toy gun fell to the ground and bounced down a short flight of stairs where it came to rest on the floor. The care giver only discovered the plastic part later and police had yet to come by and retrieve the part as of Friday morning.
The victims were able to provide police with a description of their assailant and a vehicle description and license plate. The caregiver had seen the vehicle parked around the corner on Van Etten Boulevard and made a note of the vehicle. She provided a description of the truck and the license plate to police. Vanacore said the man was wearing a white baseball cap and sunglasses. He wanted to get a good look at the man so after punching him a couple of times he pulled off the hat to see his hair color which was brown.
The caregiver says the intruder must have followed her up to the house. She had been out and when she came back to the house she entered the house through the garage which she closed behind her. When she got back into the house the man had already entered through the front door and was in the foyer.
After Vanacore called the police, they arrived in less than two minutes. New Rochelle police combed the neighborhood looking for the truck or the suspect without success.
When the pair were asked the next day about fighting with the intruder, the caregiver shrugged with a hint of a smile and said "I don't know" before explaining her hunch that the gun was not real.
"I did what anyone would do," said Vanacore, before correcting this reporter on his age, "And I'm 92 and a half not 92".
On December 28th, there was a home invasion 156 Townsend Avenue in Pelham Manor (Pelham Patch):
Police said the suspect, described as a white male in his mid-30s to early 40s, approached four elderly victims outside the home and brandished a handgun at about 10:20 a.m. Friday. The robber forced the people inside the home and stole cash and jewelry before leaving the scene.
Messages left with the Pelham Manor police department were not returned.
Detectives in Mount Vernon declined to speak about any similar cases in Mount Vernon without clearance from the police chief who is on vacation until next week.
UPDATE: Lou Young of Channel 2 News picked up the story, Gothamist picked it up from them. I have requested a credit/link for Talk of the Sound from Gothamist which is usually pretty good about the story of thing. The Loop has the story now too (with a photo from us, with permission). Hey, Gothamist did give us credit/link. Yay!