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Market Owner Grabs Baseball Bat, Puts Would-Be Burglar In Critical Condition

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WBZ-TV's Paul Burton (Photo: WBZ-TV) Paul Burton
Paul Burton is a general assignment reporter for WBZ-TV News. Burto...
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LAWRENCE (CBS) – A man accused of trying to burglarize a Lawrence market wound up in intensive care after the owner attacked him with a baseball bat.

Police say 38-year-old Douglas Ragonese of Methuen smashed out the glass front door Monday morning around 5 a.m. and broke into Fernandez Market on Essex Street.

Owner Avelino Fernandez was sleeping in the back room with his two teenage sons. He says he has only had his market for six months and he’s been robbed twice already, which is one of the reasons he sleeps there.

Monday morning, Fernandez woke up to the sounds of broken glass. He grabbed a baseball bat that he was keeping for protection and stepped out the back room to find Ragonese behind the counter.

“I said ‘don’t move, don’t move,’” Fernandez explained.

Fernandez said Ragonese came at him with a broom, so he fought back with the bat. Fernandez knocked the broom out of Ragonese’s hand, whacked him between two and five times with the bat, and held down Ragonese while his sons called police.

“Somebody got into the store. They were robbing the store,” his son told police on the 911 call.

Ragonese suffered a possible skull fracture and a broken ankle. He was taken to Lawrence General Hospital. As of Tuesday afternoon, his condition has been upgraded from critical to serious.

Lawrence Police Chief John Romero says Ragonese will be charged with breaking and entering, malicious damage and assault with a dangerous weapon.

“Given (Fernandez’s) account, he says he was attacked by this individual and he used force, so it’s still an active investigation,” he said.

Fernandez, who says his intention was simply to defend his livelihood and not to hurt Ragonese, says he hopes the alleged intruder recovers.

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