Braille Monitor                                                    June 2008

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Burglar Loses Fight with Blind Man

by Mike Celizic

From the Editor: We in the NFB frequently assure each other that with appropriate training and opportunity blind people can compete on terms of equality with our sighted neighbors. On April 24, 2008, the Today Show on NBC television carried a startling story that illustrates this contention in an unusual way. Here is the transcript of that story. It speaks for itself:

The next time Allan Kieta thinks there might be an intruder in his home, he's not going to rush blindly into a fight for his life. The forty-nine-year-old Indianapolis husband and father of two meant that literally when he said it Thursday on Today. Kieta really is blind, but that didn't stop him from subduing a would-be burglar twenty-four years his junior with wrestling moves learned more than thirty years ago.

The battle took place Monday and lasted from thirty to forty minutes. Kieta wasn't even supposed to be home, but he decided to take a day off from work and sleep in. When his pet poodle started barking hysterically, he got out of bed, and, instead of calling 911 on the phone or listening to try to determine who was in the house, he opened the bedroom door and went into the hall--and straight into an intruder. "He attacked me--as soon as I ran into him, it was like a war started," Kieta told Today's Matt Lauer in New York. "It was like mayhem for the first few seconds till I was able to get him down. Then things started calming down a little bit."

Some thirty-two years ago Kieta had been a champion wrestler in high school, and his father was a Marine who taught his son some tricks of the trade. Since he couldn't see to trade punches with the intruder, Kieta said he knew he had to use his wrestling skills to get the fight onto the floor, where blindness would not be a great handicap.

"In wrestling you have to get control of him, and by doing that either you have to go forward or you have to turn," Kieta said. "We were in the hallway, so there wasn't any way to circle him. So I basically came straight at him until I could get hold of him and pull him down, and I was on top of him."

Kieta acted as if it weren't that big a deal. Once he got the intruder, later identified as Alvaro Castro, twenty-five, on the ground, he was able to control him. In doing so, he remembered a trick his father had told him about and lifted Castro up by his belt, which forced his upper body down.

The battle went from the hallway through the laundry room and into the kitchen. During the life-or-death struggle, Kieta kept asking the intruder why he broke into his house. "He said, `I was looking for my cat.' I said, `Your cat? You're in my house!'"

Castro also said he was looking for Kieta's daughter, eighteen-year-old Alexandra; he also has a sixteen-year-old son, Allan III. Kieta later learned that Castro had worked with a crew on their yard three years earlier and had befriended Alexandra and Allan. Kieta figures that Castro thought no one would be home on a Monday morning and the house would be an easy touch.

Once in the kitchen, Kieta dragged Castro to the stove and grabbed a large chef's knife. "I love to cook, and it's sitting right beside the stove to the right," he told Lauer. "The kind of odd thing was, only one knife was left--it was a big one. All the others were in the dishwasher. It was really easy to find it. It was the only one there sticking out of the wooden block."

He held the knife to Castro's throat and went for the telephone. With his right arm wrapped around Castro's neck and near total exhaustion, it took Kieta about twenty tries to dial 911 with his left hand. He was so frustrated and Castro was so terrified that he offered to dial 911 himself. "He said, `Please, let me dial it. Please don't kill me,' Kieta said. But he finally got the three digits right and told the operator his situation.

The 911 tape records him saying, "I have an intruder, and right now I have him with a knife."

"Is he trying to fight with you right now?" the operator asked.

"No, I got the knife to his neck," Kieta replied with remarkable calm. Police rushed to the home and arrested Castro. Kieta said his jaw was sore the next day from a few punches Castro got in, but otherwise he feels fine. But, he added, the next time his dog starts barking wildly, he's not going to rush into another fight.

"I probably should have been a little more cautious," he said. "Like maybe not just open the door and charge down the hallway."
Lauer asked Alexandra if she was impressed by what her father had done. "It's kind of surprising he struggled that long," she said, then added: "But he's pretty beast-like." She meant it as a compliment.

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