HIALEAH — Maternal instincts don't fade away, even at age 80.
Hialeah grandmother Josefa Lopez said she felt no fear earlier this week when she used the wrath of an angry mother and her aluminum cane to fight off a gunman who beat and robbed her 61-year-old daughter.
At one point, the man fired a shot but missed the enraged octogenarian, who turns 81 on Thursday. Speaking in Spanish from the porch of her home Wednesday, yards from the scene of the incident, Lopez said she blindly charged against the gunman after seeing her daughter lying on the circular driveway, bleeding from her face.
"I thought she was dead," Lopez said. "I yelled at [the gunman], 'I am going to kill you, [son of a b----]!' I wasn't myself. To me, she was dead."
The daughter, Teresa Medina, on Wednesday sported a large bruise under her left eye, where she says she was pistol-whipped. She had scrapes and bruises on her arms and back.
"We were all born on Dec. 19," said Medina, referring to the date of the robbery.
Hialeah police were still trying to find the assailant and a getaway driver, who escaped with the daughter's purse despite the efforts of the 4-foot-9 Lopez.
The incident played out about 4 p.m. Monday in front of the family's Hialeah home of nine years in the 1000 block of West 46th Street.
Lopez, a longtime fan of Spanish variety show "Sabado Gigante," said she was looking forward to attending a Monday afternoon taping of the show with a friend and asked her daughter to give them a ride.
The three abuelas never made it out of the driveway.
Lopez remembers climbing into the back seat of her daughter's Ford Expedition. She remembers seeing someone grabbing her daughter by the arm and pulling her away from the driver's seat.
The daughter recalled that the man kept shouting, "Give me," in English, but she tried to fend him off. She said the man pulled her to the ground by her hair and began to kick and strike her with the gun.
"I was worried he was going to do something to my mother," she said in Spanish on Wednesday. "I was trying to scream to my mother to run inside the house."
Instead, Lopez said she instinctively hopped out of the tall SUV and hurried toward the gunman. She managed to grab the back of his shirt and began tugging at him. She was about to strike him with her cane when the man turned around and fired a shot, but missed her, she said.
It is unclear whether the man was trying to steal the SUV or the purse, police said. Police said the two men fled in a brownish four-door sedan.
The two women said Wednesday they are now terrified to leave their home until the men are captured. Plans to hold a Christmas Eve feast at another family member's home have been changed to their house.
Lopez acknowledged she could have been killed, but downplayed any notion of being either brave or heroic. Despite police advice, Lopez said she would take the same actions again.
"When you see your daughter in trouble," she said, "you have to do something."
Copyright © 2011, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
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