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A mother and her two children returned home from shopping around 10:30 p.m. on August 29. The family lives in the heart of central Phoenix, Arizona, just north of Indian School Road on Third Avenue. Not known as one of the better neighborhoods in the “Valley of the Sun.” The two kids headed into their home, while the mother started unloading the car. That’s when things got scary.

A stranger, later identified as Vincent Salazar, stepped out of the shadows and followed the kids into the dwelling and locked the door behind him. Mom was still outside with the groceries. According to the police report, the children told them the man said “he was going to die.” Other than that, he ignored them and went straight to a back bedroom and closed the door.

The woman didn’t waste a split second, smashing the window with her bare hand. “She was just so flustered,” neighbor Tiffany Gomez told the local news. “take care of your babies, lock the doors.” After breaking the window, the mom reached around and unlocked the door so the kids could run out. Gomez called her Supermom. “She did have some cuts on her hand. Supermom breaking windows. I would’ve done the same thing.”

When police arrived on the scene, with dogs and a helicopter, they discovered Salazar simply lying on the bed, and asked him nicely to come out. He didn’t get up, so they tear gassed him. He was arrested, and booked into the Fourth Avenue Jail on one count of first-degree criminal trespassing. He can get out if he finds $2,700 under his sofa cushions.

The police report is a little unclear as to his mental state. Check box entries indicate he was “not mentally ill” and “not intoxicated.” However, there may be a factor that police were not aware of at the time of his arrest.

Third Avenue and Indian School Road isn’t one of the safest neighborhoods in Phoenix.

When he appeared in front of a judge for the first time the following day, he told the judge he had been “drugged and raped before this happened.” Reports say it’s unknown if police are checking into his statement, but it certainly sounds plausible.

The man was not violent and if he had been drugged or poisoned, he might very well have been afraid he was about to die. All he seems to have wanted to do was lie down, which is also consistent with his claim.

Thankfully, this story did not end in tragedy, either for the family, or for the suspect who could have been shot if he wasn’t as passive as he was. It should be a lesson to everyone on the need for “situational awareness.” Being aware of your surroundings at all times and being able to spot something out of place quickly could save a life.

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