As they stood on the front brick patio of their home Thursday morning, an exhausted but defiant Nadav and Sandra Joshua said they felt like they had just come home from war.
The couple, bruised and stiff, calmly recounted the events of the night before, when a robbery suspect forced his way into their home on Matinicus Court and eventually was shot dead by neighbor Mike Weiser, who saw the man struggling with the couple.
“We scuffled quite a bit and I’m really sore, but you should see the other guy,” Nadav Joshua said. “This was the wrong place for a bad guy to walk into.”
Authorities said that the dead man, 26-year-old Hector Armando Reyes of Anaheim, was on the run from police after he and 23-year-old Merced Medina, also of Anaheim, robbed a McDonald’s restaurant in Los Alamitos around 9 p.m. Wednesday.
The pair fled from the restaurant in the 3000 block of Katella Avenue in a pickup truck and were followed by a Los Alamitos officer, police said. The truck ran into a dead end in an industrial area.
Police arrested Medina after a short chase, but Reyes eluded them, jumping a fence as an officer fired several shots and running into Cypress Village, the 681-home planned community where the Joshuas have lived since 1988.
Reyes apparently hid in yards for at least two hours as police sealed off a square-mile area and searched on foot and by helicopter.
Nadav Joshua, 40, had just walked out his front door to get a screwdriver from his garage when Reyes pushed him back into the house and asked him where the rest of his family was.
“He wanted a hostage,” the homeowner said. “He was looking to see if I had a wife and kids and wanted to get upstairs. We struggled for about 15 minutes. He was a strong guy and I kept trying to reason with him.”
As the pair struggled downstairs, Sandra Joshua, 45, called police, armed herself with a knife and a handgun, then climbed out of her upstairs bedroom window and hung from a balcony railing.
Mike Weiser, who lives across the street, heard her screams. He ran over to help her down from the balcony, armed himself with a shotgun and returned, police said.
Reyes and Nadav Joshua were still scuffling in the house when Sandra Joshua began screaming at Reyes to let her husband go.
“I told (Reyes) that if he didn’t show me my husband alive, I was going to shoot him as soon as he stepped out the door,” she recalled. “At that point, he opened the front door and they came outside and into the garage.”
Sandra Joshua, afraid to fire the gun, said she jumped on top of Reyes, who was at least 6 feet tall, and began stabbing him in the back with the knife. He then wrestled her to the ground and managed to get the handgun she still had.
Weiser then went to the garage, saw Reyes with the gun and ordered him to drop it, Cypress Police Capt. Robert Bandurraga said. Reyes pointed it at him, and Weiser fired once, hitting Reyes in the chest.
Reyes staggered out of the garage and into the front patio where he collapsed and died a few minutes later, police said.
Later, the couple said they felt more relieved than traumatized.
“I feel very good,” Sandra Joshua said. “If it had to happen, I can’t imagine it having a better ending than this.”
Added her husband, “As far as I’m concerned, it’s already over and time to get back to work.”
But for other residents in the normally quiet neighborhood, the incident was the talk of the day. Neighbors, many of whom were awakened by Sandra Joshua’s screams, had been up all night watching the event and its aftermath unfold.
“The screaming woke me up,” said resident Jean Goad. “It was terrified screaming where you knew that something was terribly wrong. I came out on my deck and saw Mike walking across the street with a gun. He was hollering at the guy to drop his gun. Then, I heard a shot.”
Jim Kidder, who lives two doors from Weiser, described him as calm after the ordeal.
“He said he couldn’t stand back and let something like this happen,” Kidder said. “He doesn’t want to be a hero. He just feels like it had to be done and he did it.”
Sandra Joshua agreed.
“I think my neighbor was very brave,” she said. “We were very fortunate that we had someone to help us, so we didn’t end up as victims.”
Weiser declined to discuss the incident Thursday.
Bandurraga said police are “viewing this as an excusable homicide. You have an armed suspect who had the clear ability to cause bodily harm, so obviously (Weiser) had the right to defend himself and anyone else who was in immediate jeopardy.”
As is routine, the case will be reviewed by the Orange County district attorney’s office. State Department of Corrections officials said Reyes had a lengthy criminal history and had most recently been released from prison on Dec. 22.
“He had an extensive record of arrests involving drug use, property crimes and burglaries,” said Mike Badstubner, a deputy regional corrections administrator.
Reyes was sent to prison on robbery convictions in 1986 and 1988. He was imprisoned a third time in May, 1993, on drug convictions, Badstubner said.
Bandurraga said police are seeking homicide charges against Medina, since he was allegedly a participant in a crime that resulted in a death. Medina is being held at Orange County Jail on suspicion of armed robbery.