Armed intruder stopped with MMA in Surprise, Arizona

by D.S. Woodfill | source:

David Jennings slowly emerged from a deep sleep, sensing that someone was standing by his bed.

In the dark room, the blue glow of the television illuminated a man’s silhouette. The stranger was pointing a gun at Jennings’ head.

“Don’t move,” the stranger said.

Crime victims often have just moments to react, as they decide how best to keep alive and protect loved ones. With his three children sleeping down the hall and his wife lying next to him, Jennings had a second to decide.

He moved.

2:50 A.M.

Jennings would later say it was almost as if he weren’t directing his own actions.

Jennings, who was lying on his stomach, reached around behind his back with his left arm and grabbed the intruder’s hand that was holding the gun — the same gun Jennings kept by his bed for protection, a Bersa .380 semiautomatic.

Jennings used his free hand to push himself off his bed and swung his left leg off the edge. Turning toward the intruder, Jennings lunged. He slammed his shoulder into the man’s midsection, and with his arms wrapped around the stranger’s torso, lifted him off the ground to take him off balance. With the stranger digging his fingernails into Jennings’ back, the two crashed to the floor, about six feet from the foot of the bed.

Sitting on the stranger’s torso, Jennings wrapped his leg around him to constrict his breathing.

“I was smashing his head into the ground, trying to keep him disoriented,” Jennings said.

He shouted for his wife to call 911. Jennifer Jennings grabbed the phone and dialed but couldn’t remember her own address. She composed herself enough to spit the words out and then ran from the room, jumping over the two men who were blocking the door. She took the children downstairs to the family room.

The intruder stopped struggling when the two hit the ground.

That’s when he said something totally unexpected.

“He was just saying, ‘I’m sorry. I’m sorry,’ as he lay on his stomach,” Jennings said. “He wasn’t doing anything else. He was just laying there, his arms out to the side.”

The gun was a few feet away, dropped during the struggle.

Jennifer unlocked the front door for the police.

Upstairs, she told them.

As two Surprise police officers charged into the room, guns drawn, they grabbed the aggressor, the one who had a man pinned to the bedroom floor on his stomach.

Jennifer, just behind them, saw the mistake.

“Wait, that’s my husband.”

They handcuffed the intruder and took him away.

David Jennings’ hands shook for five hours.


David Jennings said he briefly studied mixed martial arts five years ago, training that kicked in when he came under threat that night in his room. Using his legs to constrict the intruder’s breathing, which is known as a body lock, is one of the moves he learned.

Surprise police arrested Ivan Sanchez, 18, who has a juvenile record for armed robbery and burglary.

Sanchez, accused of entering the Jennings house through an unlocked sliding-glass door, faces charges of aggravated assault and burglary.


Whether Jennings reacted to the situation appropriately depends on who’s doing the talking.

Surprise police Sgt. Bert Anzini praised Jennings for his quick action but stopped short of saying that everyone in that situation should react in the same way.

“It’s the person — the victim who’s in this situation — that has to make that choice of whether they’re going to submit to the demands of the criminal and hope that there’s no type of violence,” Anzini said.

Michael Foley, who teaches self-defense, said victims in a similar situation as Jennings should definitely take action. Foley said when someone breaks into an occupied home and has a gun, “they’re probably going to do something to you no matter if you comply or not.”

“Your best bet is to fight with everything you’ve got,” he said.

James Gierke, director of victims services for the National Organization for Victim Assistance, said taking on a criminal suspect is not always the right thing to do.

“I think (that’s) way too black and white,” he said. “There’s a huge potential for you to escalate a situation. Sometimes compliance is the best approach.

“I cannot and I would not absolutely recommend that in every single situation the appropriate response is to fight. I think in certain situations compliance makes sense.”

Read entire article...


tags: David Jennings   

Get the MMA Underground app. for iPhone and Andriod devices.
iPhone Application Andriod MMA Underground Application

Recent Comments »

MW site profile image  

5/7/12 12:32 PM by MW

My wife watches the ID channel and thinks I'm trying to poison her for the next week.

da Vinci 81 site profile image  

5/6/12 9:51 PM by da Vinci 81

MMA is a sport, not a technique. Using it in this context is a as ridiculous as someone chasing down and tackling a robber and then saying they used their high school football technique to catch them. Or saying they used their steeple chasing training from high school track and field to jump over a hedge."Armed intruder stopped with steeple chasing in Arizona"

chaplinshouse site profile image  

5/6/12 9:43 PM by chaplinshouse

troof.  and what if this ended badly? Headline: "Failed use of MMA leads to father's tragic death"   

junobeach site profile image  

5/6/12 7:36 PM by junobeach

How come there's no article about boxing stopping a crime when someone gets punched in the face

Diesel67 site profile image  

5/6/12 7:30 PM by Diesel67

 If that was in Israel, the intruder could have been a terrorist who would slit his kids' throats without batting an eyelash.  Send the bad guy to the virgins and next time lock all the doors before you go to sleep, and don't leave the gun where an intruder/terrorist can get to it.  Practice gun safety if you choose to own a gun.  Don't take your safety for granted.

WRESTLENOW site profile image  

5/6/12 6:59 PM by WRESTLENOW

how did the robber know where the gun was?something is weird about that.

Palmala Handerson site profile image  

5/6/12 6:28 PM by Palmala Handerson

Guy knew exactly where the gun was, his wife was probly try'n a have em killed.Either that or I watch too much Dateline.

Authority Figure site profile image  

5/6/12 5:40 PM by Authority Figure

Legit lol.

supersaiyan site profile image  

5/6/12 5:23 PM by supersaiyan

glad everyone came out safe in all this to say the least

Kirik site profile image  

5/6/12 5:19 PM by Kirik

"David Jennings said he briefly studied mixed martial arts five years ago, training that kicked in when he came under threat that night in his room." Is there any ambiguity in that statement? Any what so ever? He was faced with an armed threat, and his response was like something out of a gracie instructional: Close the distance, achieve the clinch, take your opponent down, achieve dominant position. Only thing that was missing was a sub, but banging a bad guy's head into the floor seems a reasoable alternative at 4:00 am. Seriously, you wake up with your wife asleep next to you and your kids asleep in another room, and some guy is pointing a gun at you, and your grab him, get him down, get mount. Are you really going to some textbook kimura? For a real situation, that was very awesome technique. Twice I used martial arts to get out of a threat with a knife. Once I did a real disarm, and once I grabbed the hand, punched the guy, and ran. Before I grabbed the hand I blurted out in alarm "No thank you." Not in a cool James Bond way, in a real, life-threatening situations are crazy way.