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Salem teen fights off drugged intruder with case of beer, power tool

Jesus Ceja holds the grinder he says he used to try and subdue a suspect who broke into his family's home. (KATU Photo)

A Salem teenager fought off a home invasion suspect, who deputies believe was high on bath salts, with a case of beer and a power tool Wednesday night at his family's home.

Marion County sheriff's deputies were called to the home in the 3700 block of State Street SE around 6 p.m. When deputies arrived, they found the homeowner and his son trying to restrain the suspect, identified as 25-year-old Mario Vega-Navarro.

Deputies wrestled with the suspect for a short period of time until he was placed in handcuffs.

Jesus Ceja, 14, says Vega-Navarro entered his home an hour earlier around 5 p.m. He told KATU News the suspect was apparently looking for his aunt and uncle. Ceja's father told him he had the wrong house and asked the man to leave. An hour later, Vega-Navarro returned. Ceja says the suspect broke in through the downstairs door and tried to steal a pair of shoes.

Ceja says his father confronted the man and asked him to leave, again.

"My dad gave him several warnings that he could leave without any problems and stuff," Ceja told KATU's Chris Liedle. "As soon as that happened, he started getting mad, clinched his fists and hit my dad."

Ceja says his father tackled the suspect and yelled for help.

"After that, like I just looked to my right, I see the beers and I see this," Ceja said raising the power grinder in his hand. "I just grabbed the beer packs and start smashing them on his head ... I grabbed this, and went bang, bang, bang."

Ceja said he struck Vega-Navarro several times with the power tool. He said the suspect continued to make threats and gouged his father's eyes.

"He was like, 'I'm going to kill you guys!' I'm like, I'm not going to let this guy do anything," the 14-year-old said. "He had crazy eyes!"

According to deputies, the suspect tried to chew off the homeowner and his son's fingers. Ceja showed us the bite marks during our interview Thursday afternoon.

"Just once on the hand," Ceja said. "He was trying to bite off my fingers!"

Deputies say the suspect's behavior was consistent with someone under the influence of bath salts, a powerful, mind-altering illegal drug. Deputies say he had to be sedated before he was taken to the hospital.

Vega-Navarro is being treated at Salem Hospital and under police watch. He is charged with burglary, assault and resisting arrest.

Deputies say the Ceja family will not face criminal charges because they acted in self-defense.

"Now I carry a bat in my room," Ceja said laughing. "Just in case!"

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