Utility worker saves family from intruder

FILE PHOTO (DodgertonSkillhause/Morguefile license https://morguefile.com/license)

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FILE PHOTO (DodgertonSkillhause/Morguefile license https://morguefile.com/license)

Investigators say the "bravery of a complete stranger" helped protect a woman and children who were being threatened by an intruder.

Manani Nogales was about to take her 9-year-old sons, Joshua and Jayden, to school around 8:15 a.m. on Jan. 31 when she noticed a man inside her garage on 177th Street East. Investigators say a 26-year-old suspect had unlawfully entered the open garage and got in to the family's vehicle.

"A guy was already in our car, kicking our seats," says Joshua Nogales.

Nogales said she didn't know what to do.

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"What should I do to protect my sons? My first instinct is I have kids," Nogales said.

A power company employee heard the mother scream and saw her retreat inside her home with her children, deputies said. After calling 911, he put himself between the suspect and the door into Nogales' house, blocking the suspect from her and her children.

Pierce County investigators say it likely prevented the situation from escalating.

Nogales said she is grateful for the Puget Sound Energy employee who jumped in to help. Investigators said the employee, identified as Michael, was repairing a meter across the street and had a brief encounter with the suspect who was reportedly "talking nonsense."

According to deputies, Michael stopped the suspect from getting into the house multiple times. Investigators said it appeared the 26-year-old suspect was using drugs.

Pierce County deputies arrived minutes later to arrest the man, on whom they used a Taser after he allegedly refused to get out of Nogales' vehicle, investigators said.

Prior to getting a 911 call from Nogales' neighborhood, deputies were notified by four different people calling 911 to report that the suspect was behaving strangely three blocks away near 176th Street East near 70th Avenue. The man was allegedly blocking traffic, waving his arms, talking to himself and banging on vehicle windows as cars tried to drive around him.

The suspect faces charges of burglary, theft of a motor vehicle, obstructing law enforcement and disorderly conduct.

Nogales is glad Michael was near and willing to help.

"I didn’t have a chance to talk to him so I just say thank you very much," Nogales said.

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