Austin Green

Neighbors Tackle, Shoot at Would-Be Burglars in Garden Grove

A Garden Grove homeowner fought a pair of suspected burglars breaking into his neighbor's house Friday, tackling one of them to the ground while his cousin shot at the other with a legally owned handgun.

One suspect, identified as 36-year-old Chantha Van of Long Beach, was in custody. The other would-be thief, who may have been wounded by gunfire, remains at large along with a suspected getaway driver as of Friday evening.

The man who shot at the fleeing burglar said he is fairly certain the man was hit. That belief caused authorities to put nearby hospitals on alert for anyone who comes in with a gunshot wound, but no such cases were reported, the Garden Grove Police Department said.

Theresa Bui, who lives in the house that was broken into in the 13800 block of La Bonita Avenue, said she has no idea why someone would break into her home.

"Ten years here, the neighborhood [sic] very good," Bui said. "This [is] the first time [a burglary] happened."

Police say two men got inside Bui's then-empty house, but left with in a minute after a security alarm went off. The would-be thieves then hopped a back fence and landed in a neighbor's yard. What they apparently did not know is that the neighbor, David Avila, was home -- and that his cousin had a gun.

"He [shot] into the ground, just [to] kind of like calm then down so there wouldn't be any more problems," said Cyntha Cruz, who witnessed the confrontation. "I think two of them got away but they were able to catch one."

Avila said he grabbed Van and wrestled him to the ground, holding on as tight as he could.

"[Van] was like, 'I can't breathe,'" Avila said. "I said, 'Well, there's nothing I can do. You're gonna have to wait.'"

Police say they responded a short time later and immediately took Van into custody.

The escaping man left a trail of evidence in the street, including articles of clothing. Bui said nothing police found in the street belongs to her.

Avila's blood-splattered T-shirt is also evidence.

"You don't think... at the moment, you just do it," Avila said. "Because it's my house. I got kids. I don't know who they are or if they are coming to rob me or my kids."

Police said when Avila's cousin opened fire, he had every legal right to do so. 

The burglary suspect still at large was described as an adult male in his late 20s or early 30s. It is not known where on the man's body he might be wounded.

Investigators are looking for a black Lincoln Navigator with paper plates. They believe that was the getaway car and a third person involved was behind the wheel. Avila's cousin was questioned but did not appear to be charged with anything.

Anyone with information is encouraged to call call Garden Grove Police Department at 714-741-5704. They can also submit an anonymous tip to occrimestoppers.org.

Contact Us