OCALA, Fla. - A Florida man tried to burglarize a home and later carjack a 74-year-old woman who was sitting in traffic Tuesday morning, but a witness stopped him by tying him up with a belt, according to the Marion County Sheriff's Office (MCSO).
The suspect, identified as Eliud Rosario-Otero, 51, allegedly didn't remember the incident because he claimed to have used cocaine, Xanax pills, and alcohol the night before, MCSO said in a news release.
Deputies said they first received reports around 6 a.m. of a suspicious person at the intersection of SW Highway 200 and SW 60th Avenue in Ocala.
When law enforcement arrived, they learned Rosario-Otero tried to burglarize a nearby home but ran off toward traffic after being confronted by the homeowner. Joshua Lewis told FOX 35 News that he chased the would-be intruder off with a broom.
"I'm just holding it like this, just ‘Get back! Get back!’ That's when my buddy came running up because I was just holding him at bay, like this," he said while holding his broom. "That's all he was doing. There were no words. He just screaming. I was even asking what was wrong with him. He wasn't saying nothing."
(Photo via Marion County Sheriff's Office)
Lewis said the man appeared as if he needed help. "He was grabbing his chest and everything like he wanted someone to help him or do something. All we could get out of him was he wanted mental help and something was wrong with his insides."
Witness: ‘He tried to break into a couple of cars. He was banging on the door.’
While at the intersection, deputies said he tried to enter multiple cars, and ultimately was able to get inside the 74-year-old woman's SUV through her passenger side door.
He grabbed the steering wheel, her arm, and tried to push her out of the SUV, according to an arrest report. He reached his foot over to press the gas pedal, but authorities said the woman was able to keep her foot on the brake pedal.
A man who saw Rosario-Otero wrestling with the woman in the SUV, walked over and pulled him out of the SUV, and restrained him with a belt until deputies arrived. He told law enforcement Rosario-Otero also tried to enter his vehicle prior to him entering the woman's SUV, authorities said.
He was arrested and booked into the Marion County Jail on multiple charges including attempted carjacking, attempted occupied burglary, and burglary with a battery, an arrest report stated.
"In this case, we're very fortunate that citizens were vigilant, saw this happening, and were able to come to the victim's rescue," said MCSO spokesman Zach Moore. "This is why it's so important, whether you're in your vehicle or out of your vehicle, to make sure your doors are locked."