By Marine Corps Cpl. Lucas Vega
Marine Forces Reserve
LANCASTER, Calif., March 20, 2012 – Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Joshua Escandon was going to lunch with his wife Feb. 26 when his instincts kicked in because he heard a woman screaming for help.
He stepped out of his car and immediately knew something was not quite right. He scanned his surroundings and spotted a commotion involving a group of people.
When Escandon heard a woman yelling, “They are going to kill him! Help him!” he knew he had to take action.
The radio operator with 3rd Air-Naval Gunfire Liaison Company ran toward the crowd, where he was blocked by onlookers from what appeared to be a fight.
“Everyone was watching, but nobody was helping,” said Escandon, who returned from a seven-month deployment to Afghanistan in December. “Like Marines look out for each other in combat, we have to protect our fellow man too and stop letting stuff like this happen, or it will just happen more.”
As he wove his way through the crowd, Escandon saw a man being kicked and punched by two others. One of the men was holding what appeared to be a sword, Escandon said. He later learned from the Lancaster Sheriff’s Department that the two men were gang-affiliated, and that their weapon was a cane-sword — a cane that incorporates a concealed blade.
Escandon said he felt compelled to intervene and didn’t care if he was going to get hurt. He disarmed the aggressor with the cane-sword, while the man who was being beaten got to his feet and fought off the second aggressor. Escandon said he had one of the aggressors in a choke hold until he heard police sirens approaching. He let the man go, and the two aggressors fled. They were arrested later not far from the scene.
The lance corporal suffered only minor nicks and scratches on his hands. The attack victim had a cut above his eye that required stitches, as well as other minor cuts.
The police report said the two suspects were gang-affiliated brothers who were seeking retribution against owners of a store for banning them from the shop. Claiming that the suspects had threatened their lives, the store owners had called police that day. When the suspects returned, the situation escalated to a heated exchange of words, the sheriff’s report said.
A bystander carrying a cane-sword told the two men they needed to leave, police said, holding the sword portion of the cane behind his back so the suspects would not see it. But one of the suspects noticed the weapon and attacked the witness.
Escandon arrived shortly after one of the suspects grabbed the sword from the victim as the other was stomping on his head and torso and prevented the suspects from further injuring their victim, the report said.
Marine Corps Master Sgt. Yaphet Grimes, company communications chief and Escandon’s staff noncommissioned officer in charge, commended the lance corporal for his actions to break up the assault.
“He’s an outstanding and good-to-go Marine,” said Grimes, an 18-year veteran. “He’s always going to get the job done, and every time he performs the job, he’s going to give his 100 percent.”