ONA, W.V. - A West Virginia man nearly sliced off the hand of a man trying to force his way into his home. Turns out, the two knew each other and were even friends.
"I don't think he'll be stealing from somebody's house again," homeowner Shannon Steele told WSAZ.
Steele lives with his mother in Blue Sulpher Gardens in Ona. The telemarketer typically considers himself slow to violence.
Over the last couple of years, the self-described hippie says his house has been broken into four or five times. "We lost about a $1,000 worth of lawn equipment."
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He began to suspect his friend, who lives in a mobile home park across the street. On Tuesday morning, he told his friend on the phone that he wasn't home, then he waited inside. His suspicion was confirmed.
"The sad thing is, he knows my dog, so my dog doesn't attack," said Steele.
His friend kicked in a side door. That's when Steele grabbed a machete and started swinging. He says he was swinging in self-defense, not anger. "Oh, that was self-defense. Get out of here! Go! What are you doing? Get out of here! That's what I was doing."
After Steele hit him with a machete, the suspect took off running. The Cabell County Sheriff says his hand was nearly cut off.
Steele says he'd bought a pair of bicycles for him and his friend just a couple weeks ago. "I bought the dude a bike to ride with me, and he's gonna steal from me? That's crazy."
Neighbors say thefts have become a big problem in the area and they're relishing the thought that an accused burglar finally paid a price. "That's what they used to do in the Middle East for people who would steal stuff," said Bruno Stankavich.
After the machete incident, Steele's not optimistic their friendship can ever be mended. In a message to the him, Steele said "I hope you heal soon. Sorry. You shouldn't have done it."
Responding deputies took the machete. No charges are expected to be filed against Steele.