Watchful Neighbors Foil Mayfair Home Invasion

Knife-wielding suspect beats elderly man before stabbing an intervening neighbor, police say


The watchful eye of neighbors helped save a 95-year-old man from what had the potential to be a brutal home invasion.

Peggy McMaster felt something wasn't right when she saw a suspicious man walking into her elderly neighbor Val's house Tuesday afternoon.

"I got a little suspicious because when he closed the door behind him, the kid, not Val," she said.

Sitting in what she says neighbors call her "newsy" chair, the Mayfair woman trusted her instincts and told her husband Art to call for help.

"I said either call the cops or go get Jay," she said. "Jay was quicker so he called Jay."

Jay -- her next-door neighbor whose full name is John Otto, Jr. -- immediately made a barefoot dash for Val's Walker Street home to find out what was going on.

Bursting inside, Otto found a knife wielding man beating his elderly neighbor.

"[The suspect] had him pinned behind the door and his nose was bleeding and his mouth was bleeding," Otto said.

Otto, 34, says he shouted for the suspect to leave, but the man refused allegedly saying "don't make me do this" as he brandished his knife.

Otto demonstrated how the man's knife cut through the air -- narrowly missing his neck -- before he grabbed the man and threw him from the house.

"I wasn't gonna let him go so the cops can arrest him and then he stabbed me," Otto said.

The 28-year-old suspect plunged his knife into Otto's hip before attempting to escape. Otto and two other neighbors then chased the man for three blocks where police apprehended him, authorities say.

"Thank God for this 95-year-old neighbor that three of his neighbors actually intervened," Police Chief Insp. Scott Small said.

Val, who authorities say lives alone, was taken to Aria Hospital - Torresdale for treatment of his facial wounds.

Otto, who served during two tours of duty in the Iraq War, was treated for the stabbing and released.

The man's fiancé describes Otto as a "manly man" who will do anything to protect his neighbors. She also says residents have been keeping an extra watch on the block after a few car break-ins.

"Somehow, some way we all just come together," she said.

The unidentified suspect is expected to be charged with several counts of Robbery and Aggravated Assault, police say.

Chief Insp. Small says the suspect may be from the neighborhood. They are still investigating a possible motive.

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