Ted and Diane Marson planned to spend their 17th wedding anniversary with a quiet day at home, followed by dinner at a nice restaurant. Instead, the Langford couple awoke to an intruder in their Leigh Road home early Saturday, leading to a “battle royale” between the 62-year-old retired Saanich firefighter and the would-be thief as West Shore RCMP rushed to the scene.
The couple was sleeping in their bungalow overlooking Langford Lake when Ted thought he heard their golden retriever puppy rustling in the kitchen about 3:15 a.m. He walked to the foot of the bed and Piper was there, sound asleep.
Ted walked out of the bedroom and was heading toward the kitchen when he turned toward the living room to see a figure in the darkness, just visible against the light-coloured blinds.
“It took me a second to come to terms with what I was looking at,” he said, noting the first thing he thought was that the figure looked like Star Wars character Darth Vader.
Ted yelled at the man: “Get the hell out of my house.” That’s what woke up Diane, who said she was frozen with fear at first, but then darted to the kitchen to call 911.
The intruder, who had slipped in the unlocked back door, stood there startled.
“I didn’t give him a second chance — I just dove at him and grabbed ahold of him,” said Ted, who is six feet tall and 259 pounds. Pictures were falling off the wall as the two struggled. They eventually ended up in the adjacent bedroom, where they wrestled around on the bed.
“We proceeded with a battle royale in the bedroom and I figured that’s where I could jam him in between the bed and the wall,” Ted said.
Diane switched on the light and could see a roofing hammer, with a sharp pick edge, on the floor. She took it, along with the man’s backpack and an iPad, into the kitchen so it was out of reach.
Ted said he has never hit anyone in his entire life but thought: “I’ve got to slow this guy down.”
With the man in a headlock, Ted said, he “gave him a few pumps on the nose,” which left the man bleeding.
Diane, 55, put her weight on the man’s legs.
At one point, Diane heard the man say to Ted: “Are you a navy SEAL or something?”
The man seemed to calm down and Ted talked to him.
“I said: ‘What were you going to use this roofing hammer for?’ He said: ‘I use it to break into cars.’ ”
Ted’s grandfatherly instincts kicked in and he gave the 20-year-old a lecture. “I said: ‘You come in my home with a weapon and you assault us? You just ruined your whole entire life.’ He said to me, ‘I just want to go home.’ I said, ‘You’re not going home. The police will be here pretty quick and they’re going to take you away.’ ”
Not yet willing to accept defeat, the man started to struggle again.
“I put my big hairy hands around his throat and he just lost the will to struggle.”
Just then, five West Shore RCMP officers came into the home and arrested the 20-year-old Victoria man. The man is facing home-invasion-related charges.
“While we do not encourage the public to take matters into their own hands, we praise the swift actions of the homeowner,” said West Shore RCMP spokesman Const. Alex Berube.
Ted went to Victoria General Hospital to be checked out, but had only a small bruise under his left eye.
The Marsons said they refuse to be victimized by the incident, but plan to lock the back door in future. Ted insisted they keep their dinner reservations at Milestones on the Inner Harbour.
“I said to Diane: ‘He’s not changing our dinner plans.’”
Diane agreed they had reason to celebrate. “He’s my hero,” she said.