72-year-old man fends off robber | PostIndependent.com

72-year-old man fends off robber

WESTBURY, N.Y. (AP) ” A 72-year-old man fought off a would-be robber who brandished a gun, wrecked his Christmas decorations, and allegedly had been sent by his nephew in search of jewelry and cash, police said.

“I don’t know how I got the power,” said the victim, Reinaldo Herrera.

Herrera was working on his outdoor Christmas light display Tuesday afternoon when Santos Zelaya, 21, followed him into his suburban home on Long Island and confronted him with what turned out to be a pellet gun, police said. Herrera believed it was a real firearm.

Demanding cash and jewelry, Zelaya tore down Herrera’s living room Christmas tree and Nativity scene, Detective Lt. Raymond Cote said.

“Jesus, Mary and the wise men all fell to the ground,” Cote said.

Herrera was pushed to the ground, but he managed to fight back.

“I punched him many, many times, (and) he punched me,” the 5-foot-6-inch-tall supermarket worker said. “He got afraid.”

Zelaya ran off, police said, but authorities soon noticed him because he was without a jacket, which he had lost in the fray. They later also apprehended Herrera’s nephew Jorge Duque, 47, who drove with Zelaya to Herrera’s home and waited in a car during the robbery attempt, police said. Duque thought his uncle would be a good target because he kept cash and jewelry in the house, Cote said.

Zelaya and Duque were arrested on robbery and burglary charges. No telephone numbers for them could be found at the addresses police provided. Information on their court appearances was not available early Thursday.

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