Plenty of heroes in Ciudad Colón home invasion case

Bandits who tried to invade the home of expats near Ciudad Colón Saturday ending up with their own nightmare.

• One bandit suffered a bullet wound from the expat’s gun.

• One abducted a domestic employee who ended up beating him with a stick just before one of the expat’s employees ran over him with a vehicle just before El Rodeo residents arrived to give him a thrashing.

• Two who abducted the expat’s wife ran into a police roadblock, thanks to security preparations by the community.

• All three were arrested, and all have extensive police records, according to the Fuerza Pública.

The expats are Gerry and Victoria Kirk, who live on a 45-hectare finca west of the University for Peace. He is the retired managing director of  Merck, Sharp & Dohme for Central and South America. He is a London native, and his wife is from Michigan.

Kirk characterized the masked bandits, who may have numbered as much as five, as stupid. He said there is little in his home worth stealing. And there is only one exit from the road to his home. He spoke by telephone Monday night after being treated for a bullet wound in Hospital CIMA.

His wife also suffered injuries, including bruises, when the fleeing duo threw her from the getaway car as police closed in.

He said the assailants were seen in the small village of El Rodeo where they stopped to purchase chicken before the crime. They used the meat to poison the family’s dogs. Two dogs later died, and at least two more are sick.

The dogs acting up are what aroused the couple and a domestic employee who lives nearby just after dinner time. One of the dogs, a beagle, was seen trembling. Kirk went to find flashlights and his .38-caliber weapon, and the two women walked to where the dogs were making noise. Kirk said they were expecting to see some kind of animal and did not envision intruders.

That opinion changed rapidly when one of the intruders inexplicably fired a shot. When Kirk reached the outside of the home, he saw the women on the ground and just silhouettes in the dark, he said. He shouted to warn the intruders away, and a silhouettes began firing at him.

Kirk said he fired back and then took a bullet in the fleshy part of the left chest. The bullet then passed through his left arm. He withdrew behind a wall, and the intruder continued to fire.

Three or four bullets impacted on the wall, he said.

“I was bleeding like a stuck pig,” he said.

The armed expat appears to have disrupted the intruders’ plan, and they fled. They forced the women at gunpoint to accompany them. Ms. Kirk was led to a car. The domestic employee, Janet Argujo, was led away by a wounded man who was fleeing on foot.

Kirk said that he has been a member of the community’s security committee. One of the projects was to install a siren in the village of El Rodeo. One of Kirk’s employees caused the siren to sound, so the entire village knew from the tone that an invasion was taking place, he said.

What followed was a community effort that included residents and Kirk’s employees The siren also alerted police, who blocked the main road.

Mounted on motorcycles, in cars or on foot, the residents set out with machetes and other weapons to catch the crooks. That is why when Ms. Argujo started hitting the man, later identified by the Fuerza Pública by the last name of  Del Palacio, the man emerged to a roadway only to be run over by a vehicle driving by José Parra. one of Kirk’s employees. Then the village residents caught up with the man and administered rough justice.

Police said that Del Palacio had been detained 20 times for allegations of robbery, aggravated theft, rape, assault, attempted murder, and robbery with violence.

Kirk said that his wife was thankful that the fleeing duo slowed down before throwing her from their car. The two suspects detained at the roadblock have the last names of Álvarez Alvarado and Lacayo Lacayo, said the Fuerza Pública.

Álvarez  has been detained for aggravated robbery, faking documents, receiving stolen goods, drug trafficking and international drug trafficking.  Lacayo has been detained for illegal possession of firearms, resisting arrest and drug use, said the Fuerza Pública.

Kirk was in unexpected good humor when he spoke Monday night. He said the intruder’s bullet just missed a lung as it passed through his chest. He admits to being very lucky.

There may have been as many as five persons, including a driver who stayed with the crooks’ car.
About all the intruders could steal would be some of the orange crop, Kirk aid, calling his home a rustic finca.

But he agreed that the crooks may have targeted the home because it was isolated and occupied by expats.

“They underestimated the village,” he said, adding that the real heroes in this case were the villagers and his employees.

Kirk said he has been around firearms all his life and even had given gun training to his wife and employees.

At least some of the intruders appeared to be high on drugs.

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