Break-in suspect shot by 93-year-old homeowner late last month dies; homeowner said crooks kicked in his door, attacked him

Breaking News

Officials said a break-in suspect
shot by a 93-year-old southern California homeowner late last month has died, KABC-TV reported.

What are the details?

Joseph A. Ortega, 33, was shot shortly after midnight June 29 after he and several others reportedly broke into a home on Eucalyptus Avenue in Moreno Valley, the station said, citing the Riverside County sheriff’s department.

Ortega was taken to a local hospital in critical condition after deputies and paramedics responded to the scene, KABC said. Investigators
established that several individuals, including Ortega, were inside the homeowner’s residence when the shooting occurred.

Authorities at the time told the homeowner — Joe Teague — that the wounded man wouldn’t survive,
KNBC-TV reported. The sheriff’s department didn’t give a date of Ortega’s death but announced it Thursday as a press release update.

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What’s the background?

Teague added to KNBC that a group of people — consisting of “ladies and men” — “kicked the door open,” after which “the big guy, he came at me” and the rest of the group “started throwing objects that [were] in the house at me.”

Teague also told the station that “when they broke in, they got a lot of my equipment, and I approached them to put them under citizens’ arrest,” and “I kept telling them, ‘I have a shotgun with three shells in it,’ but I actually only had one. And they kept throwing stuff at me.”

Teague fired his shotgun once, hitting one of the intruders, KNBC reported.

Oscar Malma — who’s married to Teague’s granddaughter — explained to KNBC after the incident that Teague was living with his daughter since his wife died a few months ago, so he hasn’t been at his home as much.

“Recently he’s been having break-ins,” Malma told the station.

“It happened once on Friday; on [a] bright day they went to break in the house. And now this happened in the middle of the night? … They were looking for him. They’ve been watching him. They’ve been watching the house for a while.”


Image source: KNBC-TV video screenshot

Malma added to KNBC that Teague has grown tired of the break-ins and police taking too long to respond.

“He was tired because every time he calls the police, [they take] forever to come and assist him,” Malma
told KABC-TV. “He took the law into his own hands.” The station said authorities have not confirmed how many reported break-ins there have been at Teague’s home.

Malma added to KNBC that Teague is “an old retired plumber, and he has a lot of tools. … He was a musician as well, so he’s got a lot of … instruments. And little by little they’ve been ripping him off.”

Teague was taken in for questioning following the shooting, a process that took multiple hours to complete, KNBC said.


Image source: KNBC-TV video screenshot

“I don’t blame Joe,” Malma told the station. “He’s been working all his life, he’s 93 years old … and whatever little things he has, he needs to protect them.”

Malma told KABC he doesn’t believe his relative will be arrested because “he was defending his property. That happened inside his house. So I don’t think there’s any reason for him to be arrested.”

The sheriff’s office said as part of a press release titled “Homeowner Justified in Shooting of an Intruder” that Teague was unharmed.

Teague is not facing any charges, KABC said.

The following is a KNBC-TV video report that ran immediately after the break-in and before Ortega died:

This story has been updated.

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