84-year-old thwarts robbery attempt at home, shoots at would-be robber as he flees

BRADENTON, Fla. - The main thing you notice about 26th Avenue Drive is that its so quiet and serene.  Sort of like the 84-year-old guy who lives over at 2808, who everyone around knows simply as Mr. Tony.

"He's very nice and he helps me with all my school fundraisers and stuff like that," said 10-year-old Ryann Price.  "He's just a very independent person."

An independent person who is staying inside and not answering the door following his shooting at a would-be robber stuffing stolen stuff into a late-model VW parked in his driveway as he and his wife arrived home late Sunday afternoon.  

"Well, I don't blame him," said Neighbor Kristi Patterson.  "I think he's a little shook up."

Kristi, standing on her porch across from the scene of the shooting, along with her daughter Ryann, saw it all happen as she ran toward the commotion.

"He yelled for the boy to stop," she said.  "His wife was sitting on the horn -- I thought she was having a medical emergency, so I ran over to her.  The boy was ramming his car into the fence back there.  Ramming it into Mr. Tony's car, trying to get out of there.  Mr. Tony asked him to stop several times.  He didn't.  He shot at the vehicle.  The boy came through the other yard and missed me by about that much and he shot at the vehicle again."

A SUV across the street was hit with one round, but Tony DiSanto, Mr. Tony, was pleased to tell investigators he hit the guy's car.

"He thinks he hit the vehicle with gunfire," said Dave Bristow with the Manatee Sheriff's Office. "But we're not sure."

And the Sheriff's spokesman wasn't sure why Mr. Tony's weapon was taken away and he was issued a summons.

"We're still investigating the case," he said.  "But he apparently fired shots while the vehicle was fleeing, so that's questionable, and so, yes, the investigation continues and we'll probably end up sending it to the State Attorney's Office."

Which is upsetting to the neighbors, who say they are happy he took action and got the bad guy to run.

"Nobody was afraid of Mr. Tony," said Ms. Patterson, clutching her daughter.  "We were afraid of the criminal."

And that criminal, still unidentified, who got away by riding across a next-door lawn and backing all the way down the street likely won't be back.  As the neighbors on 26th Avenue Drive West told me, he's probably as scared of Mr. Tony as they are proud of him.

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