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Elderly Couple Face Home Invasion

The Story

A woman and her husband were getting ready for a potluck dinner with neighbors when their plans came to a screeching halt. The elderly couple was forced out of their home by a younger man and woman who wanted to lay claim to the elderly couple’s home.

Elderly Couple Face Home Invasion

After checking on baked potatoes cooking in the oven, Ann glanced out the kitchen window of her home on Northwest Skyline Boulevard shortly before noon on Monday. She and her husband were expecting about a dozen neighbors for a midday potluck to discuss wildfire safety in their Forest Park neighborhood.

There was someone out there, but it wasn’t a neighbor.

Instead, Ann spotted a man she didn’t recognize carrying her husband’s ladder.

Ann, a 76-year-old artist, yelled to Marv, 85, who was upstairs working on their income taxes.

So began an hours-long ordeal that ended about 6 p.m. Monday when Portland police used explosives to blast open a door to the couple’s home, where a 33-year-old man and a 33-year-old woman had barricaded themselves for hours. 

After spotting the man carrying the ladder, Ann ran out of the house through the garage and came face to face with him — the man later would be identified as Michael Anthony Mazzi — as he propped the ladder against the house, leaning it at an angle that led directly to an upstairs window.

Shocked, she asked the man, “What the hell are you doing?”

“This is my house,” he replied.

Home Owners Retreat from Danger

Ann and Marv, who’ve been married for 16 years and have owned their home next to a popular Forest Park trailhead for more than a decade, have been diligent about preparing for dangers such as wildfires. But in these hills west of downtown Portland, they never expected they’d face this danger: a home invasion in the middle of the day.

Marv, barefoot, eventually ran outside into the rain, too, to confront the man. He dialed 911 from the driveway.

Ann had retreated from the man, but she soon realized the intruder had made it inside the house. She rushed down the hallway and into her bedroom.

That’s where she found him, standing next to a mirrored closet in the couple’s first-floor bedroom. A woman was crouched behind him, next to a dog that looked terrified, Ann said.

Ann decided to back off again, but she went to the kitchen to grab her cell phone first. The man followed, lunging for the phone.

In the home’s long hallway, she said, “I’ll leave if you let me have my phone.” He relented.

Marv was in the hallway now as well, having hung up with the 911 dispatcher.

Elderly Man Makes a Bold Choice

“The police are on the way,” Marv said as he discreetly closed a door to a bedroom. A lifelong hunter, Marv stores firearms in the room, something he told dispatchers. He analyzed the situation, taking into account the 50-year gap in age between himself and the man screaming at his wife. He decided to leave his guns behind the closed door.

“I’ve been in fights before, but at 85, I’m not in my prime,” Marv said, three days after the ordeal.

Both Marv and Ann exited the house calmly. Outside they came upon two friends, neighbors, who were bringing chili and brownies for the potluck. They went to the neighbors’ house as police descended on theirs.

What Can We Learn?

This story makes some very good points. First, expect the unexpected. Most people who have not dealt with a home invasion would not expect something like this to happen. Unfortunately, invasions can happen anytime and anywhere. Second, the man and woman made a choice. They chose not to fight. This was a perfectly valid and reasonable decision to make considering their age and the uncertainty they had about their ability to be victorious.

What about the man’s choice to leave his firearms behind? This could have gone either way. If he tried to take one or all of them, he could have alerted the intruders to their whereabouts. He also could have forced them to leave if he was successful. The man knew that there was a slim chance that he would get the jump on the intruders and I feel like “flight” was the right choice. He knew enough to tell the authorities about the guns in case the intruders found them. Sometimes you fight and sometimes you retreat. Assess the situation and make the right choice for yourself.

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