Hemet couple opens fire on intruder during attempted burglary

HEMET, Calif. -- A parolee with a lengthy criminal record was shot and wounded by both residents of a home he was attempting to rob in Hemet, police said.

"The only way to stop them is to shoot them when they come in here," said Jeff Sagmeister.

Police say a man broke into a home in the 1700 block of South State Street after midnight Tuesday. Jeff and Von Sagmeister, residents of the home who are in their 70s, confronted the burglar, who was hiding in a bathroom.

"I just opened the door and boom! That's all it took, and he was on me right away," Jeff Sagmeister said.

As the two struggled, Von Sagmeister ran into the living room and grabbed her gun. All the while, her husband eventually got the upper hand.

"I shot him three or four times in the chest," he said.

But then the suspect lunged toward Von Sagmeister and hit her in the face, she said.

"When he got into the hallway, he knocked me into the heater there, and then she blasted him with the 357," Jeff Sagmeister said.

The intruder fled the home, police said. Officers responded and searched the area but were unable to locate the man.

A short time later, they learned of a person with gunshot wounds who was being treated at a hospital in Moreno Valley. He was transported to Riverside University Health System, and officers were able to link him to the burglary reported earlier.

Police identified the suspect as Dechawn Wallace, 27, of Moreno Valley. They said he has an extensive criminal history for violent crimes and is currently on parole for burglary.

Wallace was treated for multiple gunshot wounds that were determined to be non-life-threatening. He was arrested and booked into Riverside County Jail, facing charges of parole violation, home invasion robbery, burglary, elder abuse and assault.

Von Sagmeister has a large bruise on her face, while Jeff has bruises all over his body. But they're alive.

"The only message I want to get out is to see everyone arm up man, I really would," Jeff Sagmeister said.

"We would not be here speaking to you now if we had not had the protection," Von Sagmeister said.

Hemet Police Chief Rob Webb blamed the state for laws that allowed Wallace to be on the street with his criminal history.

"This is a case of good people being victimized by a subject who the State of California failed to keep locked up," Webb said. "It is totally unacceptable that decisions made at the state level continue to have a detrimental effect on our local communities."
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