An elderly man who said he pleaded to no avail for help from bystanders managed to beat back his wife’s alleged assailant, holding down the suspect in front of his home until Santa Clara County Sheriff’s deputies arrived and arrested her.
Yousef Youkhaneh was inside his San Jose home when he heard his wife scream from the backyard. Christine Youkhaneh, 76, had been hit on the head by a 50-year-old transient who authorities say was trying to break into the house.
He hurried out and scuffled with the suspect, holding onto her ankle until Santa Clara County sheriff’s deputies arrived.
“I said, “Call police, somebody help me! I am tired,” Youkhaneh recalled from his backyard Monday afternoon, where the incident began. “Nobody did anything.”
After 10 minutes, he said, Santa Clara County Sheriff’s deputies arrived to arrest Rehnu Singh, a 50-year-old San Jose woman already on probation for burglary. She was booked into Santa Clara County jail for investigation of elder abuse, assault with a deadly weapon, attempted burglary and probation violation, said Sheriff’s Sgt. Richard Glennon.
Glennon said sheriff’s deputies had been called around 5:50 p.m. in response to an apparent assault of a woman by a man in the street, but soon discovered otherwise.
“She had tools in her hand and she tried to hit me,” said the retired auto body shop owner, showing bite marks left on his hand from the attack. “But I didn’t let her go.”
As they headed out along his driveway that leads straight into traffic, Youkhaneh managed to grab Singh’s ankle. By the time they got to the sidewalk bordering the traffic, “I fell down and she fell down,” he said, lifting his left pant leg to show his skinned knee. “But I didn’t let her go. I held onto her with all my power.”
Singh screamed to witnesses: “I didn’t do it; the man did it!” Youkhaneh said. He looked up and saw people — across the street, on the sidewalk, and many slowing down their cars to take photos with their phones, and he called for help.
“Why didn’t they help?” he asked Monday. “What kind of people is this taking pictures? Maybe someday it happens to them.”
“When deputies arrived, they were literally in the middle of the street,” Glennon said. “(The husband) was able to hold her down, a woman half his age. … The elderly are seen as easier victims, and sometimes they are targeted due to being less likely to fight back, which was not the case in this instance.
“We definitely don’t encourage people to engage people like this, but obviously in this situation his wife was under attack so he had to take those actions.”
The sheriff’s office recommends that in similar situations, rather than confronting a burglar, people should retreat into a locked room and call 911, he said.
Singh was arrested on charges of assault with deadly weapon, elder abuse and attempted burglary.