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THE ORLANDO SENTINEL
Man Recalls Struggle To Disarm Intruder
Luis Olivo was resting when a man with a machete and gun lunged into his home.
By Pedro Ruz Gutierrez | Sentinel Staff Writer
July 17, 2004
Luis Olivo lay on his bed awaiting a TV newscast from his native Puerto Rico when a man burst through his bedroom with a machete and gun in hand.
"Someone's trying to kill me," Olivo quoted the man as saying.
"He was screaming like a madman."
Clad only in his underwear, the Orange County man leapt from his bed and wrestled the intruder -- later identified as a 28-year-old neighbor -- to disarm him.
"You don't know how a person like that would react; if he would shoot or start swinging the machete," Olivo said Friday after an insurance-adjuster had documented the damage from the attack, including broken furniture and bloodstains.
Olivo said he couldn't just wait "until he pointed at me and started shooting."
Cesar Figueroa-Donnolo, 28, was being held Friday at the Orange County Jail on charges of armed burglary, aggravated assault and attempted first-degree murder.
Sheriff's officials said he ran into Olivo's pastel-green home east of Orlando about 6 p.m. Wednesday and terrorized Olivo, 46; his wife, Beatriz Lopez, 29; daughter Yamilys, 14; son Elvis, 8; and nephew Ivan Guzman, 13.
Initially, the family did not recognize the man with the dazed look, who lived across the street from them on Martinsville Court.
Olivo, a house painter on vacation, survived the 15-minute ordeal with cuts to his index and middle fingers on his left hand.
The intruder was not so lucky. When Olivo managed to throw him out the front door, the man broke into the home through a front window and cut his forearm. That's when Olivo escaped -- still in his underwear -- and joined his family outside.
According to a sheriff's report, Figueroa's rampage began about seven homes north of the Olivo-Lopez residence.
He banged his weapons on several neighbors' garage doors and tried unsuccessfully to break into another home. The mother of a sheriff's detective who lives on the same street called 911.
By the time Figueroa ran into the Olivo-Lopez home through the family's garage, gun-toting deputy sheriffs had arrived in the driveway, Olivo said. The deputies, however, never entered the home.
Olivo and his family gave this account of what happened next:
Inside the residence, Olivo's nephew grabbed the machete from Figueroa as Olivo tightly held Figueroa's hands and tried to break his grip on the gun. When the gun fell to the floor, Olivo kicked it into the dining room.
The men continued struggling and reached the kitchen. Olivo's wife held the machete while Figueroa wielded a butcher knife he found on a countertop. Olivo said his left hand was cut as Figueroa brandished the knife.
Lopez and her children then left the home while Olivo and his nephew Ivan continued to fight off the home invader.
Olivo and Figueroa, still struggling, moved into the yard through a sliding-glass door and then ran back into the house when they saw more deputies in adjacent yards.
Olivo said he pushed Figueroa out his front door, only to have Figueroa break into the home again. That's when Olivo escaped outside, but his 13-year-old nephew had run into his uncle's master bedroom and locked the door.
The boy said he heard Figueroa trying to open the door.
"I told him not to hurt me," Ivan said. He then opened a window and broke through a screen, jumped into the yard and escaped.
Enraged and bleeding from a deep cut to his forearm, Figueroa began breaking furniture inside Yamilys' bedroom, the girl's family said. On Friday, the white furnishings, including a dresser and the girl's bed, lay across the room in tatters.
The reasons for the rampage were unclear Friday. Records show Figueroa's previous run-ins with the law mostly involved traffic offenses.
Lopez said the family left the crime-ridden neighborhood of Candelaria in the Puerto Rican town of Toa Baja to find peace in Central Florida.
"We came here looking for tranquillity and look what happens to us," said Lopez. "If we could, we would put up a fence to enclose the home."