Crime & Courts

68-year-old Gastonia man in walker sends suspects running

It took Joseph Sapienza a few minutes to get to the front door of his Gastonia house Thursday evening, but when he did, Sapienza had a surprise for two burglary suspects.

Sapienza, 68, who needs a walker to get around, was wielding a handgun when he opened the door, police said. The two would-be burglars ran off.

“I’m hoping they got the idea,” Sapienza said Saturday. “Maybe they won’t come back.”

Sapienza heard noise about 9 p.m. Thursday at the front door of his house, a short distance east of downtown Gastonia. He said the noise sounded suspicious, so he grabbed his handgun, put it in a holster, and strapped the holster to his walker.

When he got to the door, he yelled that he had a gun, and then proved his point when he opened the door.

“There were two men, and they ran off,” Sapienza said.

The next morning, he wrote a note warning would-be bandits to stay away from his house, or else.

“I’ve taken the sign down,” he said Saturday. “I don’t think I need it anymore.”

He said the incident has helped unify neighbors on his street. “We have to stick together,” he said.