ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – It was a wild encounter. A man jumped into action to save his mother from being carjacked by a man wearing no clothes.
“It was one of the most bizarre things that’s ever happened to me and I’ve lived here all my life,” the man who fought off the suspect recalled the strange encounter he and his family had Sunday.
KRQE News 13 agreed to not reveal the alleged victim’s name, due to privacy concerns.
The man’s family is still shaken up after what happened to them Sunday around 4:30 p.m. near Broadway and Tijeras in downtown Albuquerque.
The man had just moved into a gated apartment downtown. His parents parked on the street nearby to drop something off.
“As I’m approaching this gate over here, I just hear my step father yelling, ‘Get out of the car! Get out of the car! And I saw these two bare legs in the back seat,” the man recalled.
The bare-legged man, police later learned was 19-year-old Eduardo Diaz, and it turns out his legs weren’t the only thing bare.
“This is a little bit different, this offender was wearing nothing but a hospital gown,” said officer Tanner Tixier of the Albuquerque Police Department.
The naked man, witnesses said, tried to take off in the family’s car.
“I wasn’t even thinking, I didn’t know if he had a weapon or what but I saw my mom in the driver’s seat,” the man told KRQE News 13.
He said he and his 70-year-old step-dad jumped into action to fight off Diaz. Protecting his mother was top priority, the man explained.
“There was no way I was going to allow him to leave because I didn’t know if he would get in an accident, if he would throw her out of the vehicle later,” the man told KRQE News 13.
“He did go for my face, pulled my glasses off,” the man said. “I couldn’t get him out, so I just started punching him in the face.”
“I’m not a violent person, never have been, but when you see your family threatened especially your own mother…you would do anything,” the man explained.
A neighbor was able to call 911. Albuquerque police officers showed up within a couple minutes.
An APD officer’s lapel video shows victims holding down Diaz by his ankles on the pavement.
Witnesses said at one point, Diaz had hold of the female driver, and put her car in gear. The car hit the curb and stopped.
“I think the adrenaline just kicks in and you’re just trying to protect your family,” the woman’s son told KRQE News 13.
In the end, most of the hospital gown was ripped off.
“It didn’t even occur to me until I got him under control that he was naked,” the man explained.
Police later learned Diaz had been checked into Lovelace hospital and left before treatment.
“He probably just saw two senior citizens and felt like they would be an easy target,” said the man. He thanked APD for responding so quickly and arresting the man.
While police don’t encourage victims to confront suspected carjackers, Tixier said the men did the right thing in this case.
“Our biggest concern when people confront offenders is you never know what they’re armed with, and in this case it was a pretty safe bet that he wasn’t armed,” officer Tixier explained.
Both police and the victim’s family are thankful no one was seriously injured.
After getting punched in the face by the woman’s son, witnesses said Diaz apologized while lying on the ground. He was arrested and booked on felony robbery and aggravated burglary charges.
Police warn everyone to stay alert when taking things out of their cars. Due to health privacy laws, APD cannot release why Diaz was in the hospital in the first place.