An elderly Japanese-American woman was sexually assaulted and beaten to death after she tried to stop an assault on her friend.
California-based Fusako Petrus, 86, is now being hailed as a hero by investigators for her attempt to defend her 61-year-old friend using her walking stick on Wednesday, according to the LA Times.
According to Sacramento County sheriff’s Sgt. Tony Turnbull, both women were out for a walk when Petrus’ friend was allegedly targeted by 18-year-old Neven Glen Butler on the running track of Highlands High School in Sacramento, California. Petrus reportedly hit the attacker with “a small walking stick” in defense of her friend.
The suspect shifted his attention to her and began beating up the old woman. Petrus died after being badly beaten by the suspect while her friend sustained injuries and is now being treated.
“She died trying to help her friend,” Turnbull was quoted as saying.
The suspect was apprehended on the same day for an unrelated assault of a 92-year-old woman just a few miles away after being linked by homicide detectives, CBS Sacramento reports. The surviving woman is being treated at a hospital for her injuries.
Butler, who dropped out of high school last year, is currently being held without bail on suspicion of murder. His first court appearance is on Monday.
Neighbors have expressed their admiration for Petrus, who was a beloved member of their local community.
“I think she’s a hero. She gave her life to save her friend,” a neighbor named Dolores Hines was quoted by the LA Times.
“It sounds like something she’d probably do. She’d help anybody,” said Don Brown, who lives right across Petrus’ home.