Encinitas family detains suspected robber, authorities say

An Encinitas family detained a homeless man who possibly attempted to break into and rob their home, sheriff's officials said in a news release.

Fred Weston, the 62-year-old homeowner of the one-acre property on the 500 block of La Costa Avenue, was awakened by his surveillance system on his property at about 5 a.m. on Oct. 20, according to a news release written by Sergeant Joe Tomaiko of the San Diego County Sheriff's Department.

According to the news release, Weston's property had been targeted several times in the past by suspects stealing copper cable and wire, leading him to set up the surveillance system.

Weston then grabbed a shotgun and went outside to check the property, eventually encountering a man in dark clothing who was attempting to hide, Tomaiko said. Weston ordered the suspect — later identified as Chuck Neil, a 43-year-old homeless man from Escondido — to stand up, show himself and start walking to the front gate of the property.

The two men then entered an altercation, according to the news release. Neil was able to grab the barrel of the gun, which Weston shot while it was pointed toward the sky, Tomaiko said. Neil then punched Weston "several times" in the face, breaking his nose and causing Weston to fall to the ground, face first. Neil then began choking Weston with the barrel of the shotgun against his throat.

Weston's wife, Lilibeth Weston, 58, and the couple's son Joseph Weston, 19, saw the encounter on the surveillance cameras. The son armed himself with a Taser, and he and his mother drove down the long driveway to where the two men were fighting, Tomaiko said. He said the mother and son demanded Neil to let go of Weston, but Neil refused. The son deployed his Taser, incapacitating Neil. The family then used a belt to secure Neil while they called 9-1-1.

Weston was treated and released from a local hospital for a broken nose, as well as multiple scrapes and bruises, Tomaiko said. Neil was also taken to a local hospital for evaluation and treatment to the TASER deployment area and minor scrapes and bruises.

During an investigation, deputies found copper cable had been cut and was being collected nearby the property. Upon Neil's release from the hospital, detectives questioned him and then booked him into the Vista Detention Facility on suspicion of robbery and a grand theft related to one prior case at the Weston home, Tomaiko said.

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