Jeff Preach, above, is 63. He has been a pillar of his community, town council member, a Lions Club president, president of the Chamber of Commerce, member of the Violin Canyon Corporation. He lives in a large house on a dirt road in the country, near Castaic, California. Confused motorists have often stopped and asked for directions, according to a commenter who claimed to be related. It was about 10:30 on Sunday night when he answered the door . . .
“I opened the door and I said, ‘What do you want?’ Preach said, adding that the suspect then began mumbling. “So finally he goes, ‘I want a $100 million,’ and I said, ‘well, you came to the wrong house pal.'”
When Preach denied him, the suspect allegedly punched him in the face. That punch escalated into a knockdown drag-out fight.
Preach had undergone back surgery three weeks before, and was not supposed to lift more than 10 pounds, let alone engage in a brawl. Memories of his high school football days kicked in, and he pinned his assailant to the floor and wall.
Then the effect of surgery, 45 years, and some intense combat, set in. After a few minutes, he thought he could no longer hold 21-year-old Salvador Medrano. By that time, Preach’s wife was calling 911, and their house guest, Larry Bensel, arrived to take over holding Medrano down. Bensel had undergone hernia surgery just days before.
While Bensel, in his early 50’s, held Medrano, Preach got a shotgun and loaded one cartridge. Bensel’s stitches were torn out during the struggle. With the loading of the shotgun, Medrano stopped struggling, but after deputies arrived a short while later, it took five of them to subdue him.
Medrano admitted to being on heroin, running out of gas, and going to the home to get money.
Jeff Preach could not know that Medrano was unarmed. While he outweighed Medrano by more than 2-1, the effects of age and surgery worked against him. It took the combined efforts of three adults to subdue Medrano and hold him for police, and then only after of a shotgun became a critical part of the equation. Even a small man on drugs can be difficult to subdue.
I again see the wisdom of having some kind of stand-off barrier so that the door can be answered from a distance. My friend and highly decorated WWII veteran and intelligence operative, George “Tex” Ferguson, used a porch that was screened with heavy duty mesh, and a doorbell at the outer door for this purpose. He could answer the door, view and communicate with the visitor from 15 feet before he made a decision. Others have used fences and gates with an intercom system. Security cameras make such a system even more useful and usable. Such a system should be backed up with armed force. A gun at hand works very well in these situations.
If Jeff Preach had been home alone, the result might not have turned out as well as it did.
©2015 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.