Armed homeless man credited with saving Fresno teen's life in attack

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- An armed homeless man is credited with saving a Fresno teen's life in an attack. He believes he stopped a man from beating a young woman to death.

"I mean he was kicking her hard too, right in the head, and I couldn't just stand there and do nothing," said Paul DeLeon.

An hour later, he got shot. The Good Samaritan lived to tell his tale, and he's sharing it with Action News.

DeLeon is a homeless man who was armed with mace and a gun. He's credited with saving the teenager's life, but nearly lost his own. Fresno County sheriff's deputies are hoping a couple clues will help them arrest the man who hurt them both.

Behind the yellow tape, a parking lot you can't even see from Clovis Ave. is the scene of two attacks, just minutes apart. The trouble started between a man and his ex-girlfriend out in the open, in front of a Tarpey Village liquor store. But as the 19-year-old woman moved to a more secretive spot in the back, her ex followed. Witnesses say he pulled her out of a car, then punched and kicked her so hard, he knocked her unconscious. But the assault didn't go undetected.

"A Good Samaritan, a homeless man who stays in the area, jumped in," said Fresno County sheriff's spokesman Tony Botti.

"I grabbed my mace and I maced him," said DeLeon, the Good Samaritan.

DeLeon acts as a quasi-security guard for businesses in the area and he came to the woman's rescue. But his act of heroism apparently made him the suspect's next target.

"They drove off and he said something like 'I'm going to come back for you,' and he did," DeLeon said.

After an ambulance picked up the young woman, her attacker came back, and this time he had a gun. He opened fire on DeLeon, hitting him in the arm. But DeLeon is a registered gun owner himself and he fired back, chasing the suspect away in a white Lexus.

Fresno police spotted the car speeding down Highway 41 at more than 100 miles per hour and then found it abandoned near Downtown Fresno. The gunman may have gotten away for the time being, but because of DeLeon, he never got to finish what he started.

"He probably would've killed her," the hero said. "I mean, I have no doubt in my mind he wouldn't have stopped. She was out of it and he was still kicking her."

Deputies have a good idea who the man is, but they're not identifying him publicly yet. They also say DeLeon did a great job by intervening, but it's usually better to call 911 to get help.

Copyright © 2022 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.