Mother fights off attacker hiding in closet to ‘save daughter’s life’

An Arizona mother says she was able to fend off an attacker who was hiding in a closet in her home. (Source: KPHO)
Published: Apr. 20, 2023 at 9:29 PM EDT
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MESA, Ariz. (KPHO/Gray News) - Authorities in Arizona say a man has been arrested after breaking into a home and attacking a woman.

KPHO reports that Yesenia Cano was attacked in her home Monday afternoon by man who was hiding in a closet.

Cano said the situation started when she and her daughter arrived home and found the door was not locked the way they had left it.

“When I noticed that, I thought my husband must have returned from work because he’s the other one with a house key,” she said. “But when I walked in, I didn’t see him.”

According to Cano, she then went into her son’s bedroom. She turned on a light and that’s when the man, later identified as 42-year-old Reyes Vender, jumped out of the closet and grabbed her by the neck.

The woman said Vender started yelling and threatened her with a gun and a knife.

“I fought him off to save my daughter’s life,” she said. “I don’t know why he did this.”

Police said Cano told them that he began hitting her in the ribs, stomach and legs.

Cano’s 10-year-old daughter called 911 and said a man she didn’t know was holding a gun to her mother’s head.

Vender reportedly told the girl to “get out of the house before I shoot you.” Cano said she told her daughter to escape as she worked to hold off the man.

Mesa police arrived at the home and found Cano’s daughter waiting outside. An officer went to the front door and yelled for anyone inside to show themselves.

According to court documents, the officer noticed a bedroom door slowly open before seeing Cano and Vender. The officer told both to come out of the room, and Cano was able to run outside while the officer held Vender at gunpoint.

Other officers arrived, and after a brief struggle, Vender was arrested.

Authorities reported no serious injuries in the incident, but Cano said it was a traumatizing experience.

“I have a lot of anxiety, a lot of stress, I can’t sleep well, and parts of my body hurt after the physical struggle with him,” Cano said. “I’ve seen my daughter a little stressed and frightened. She has had to sleep with the light on after the incident. She’s been very scared.”

According to authorities, Vender told investigators that he did threaten to shoot the mother and girl. However, it wasn’t made immediately clear why he was in the home or if he had any weapons.

Vender is facing charges that include aggravated assault, burglary, kidnapping and resisting arrest.