Feisty 99-year-old grandma tells gunman to quit messing up her clean home, cops say

Doris Wasden, 99, held her own early Saturday against an armed intruder who held her hostage for several hours in her West Valley City, Utah, home.
Doris Wasden, 99, held her own early Saturday against an armed intruder who held her hostage for several hours in her West Valley City, Utah, home. KSTU

When Freddy Alexander Velasquez, 18, shot his way through a sliding glass door into a home while fleeing Utah police early Saturday morning, cops say, he didn’t reckon on Doris Wasden.

Velasquez took Wasden, 99, hostage as police surrounded the West Valley City home in a Salt Lake City suburb after her granddaughter, CJ Montoya, escaped with her fiance, Jim Gabbard, police told The Deseret News. Wasden later told Gabbard that she was frightened when the gunman dragged her out of bed, but gave as good as she got during the hours-long standoff.

“He was rifling through the drawers, making a mess, spilling things all over,” Gabbard said. “She has her 100th birthday party one week from today, and her words to him were, ‘I just had this house cleaned for my party and you are messing it up. You better knock it off!’ 

The incident began at 8 p.m. Friday when police investigating a shooting in nearby Magna tracked Velasquez to a motel in West Valley City, reported KUTV. Velasquez fled, at one point even pointing a gun at his own head to keep police at bay. He then ran to a nearby home and shot out a sliding glass door to gain entry at 1:45 a.m. Saturday, police told the station.

When Gabbard went to investigate, Velasquez demanded his car keys, he told KSL. Police pulled Gabbard and Montoya from the home as they edged toward a door, but Wasden, who did not hear the uproar, could not escape. Montoya tried to go back inside after her grandmother but police refused to let her go.

Then Velasquez confronted Wasden, who was still in bed, she told KSTU.

“He was just scared I guess, and he grabbed me by my hands, and then I just sit on the floor on my bum so I didn’t get hurt," Wasden told the station. "And I just got back in bed and he come in again and then he started to talk to me. And I said ‘I can’t hear you, I can’t hear you.’ And then he realized I was a very old woman, so he was pretty nice to me after that."

As Velasquez negotiated with police, he occasionally came back to sit on the edge of her bed and talked quietly with her, Wasden told KSTU. She eventually persuaded him to release her about 3:30 a.m., police said.

At 5:20 a.m., Velasquez tried to escape in a car from the garage, but police had blocked it off and SWAT officers arrested him on suspicion of aggravated assault, aggravated burglary, aggravated kidnapping, aggravated robbery, felony discharge of a firearm and possession of a firearm by a restricted person. He also had numerous warrants out for his arrest, police told The Deseret News.

Wasden suffered only bruises in the incident, and still plans to host her upcoming 100th birthday party at her home.

“Grandma is just the toughest person,” Gabbard told The Deseret News as he fought back tears. “She’s just fine, she says. She’s just fine. It’s over. Everybody’s OK and it’s over and she just wants to come home.”