Grandfather Pushes Trespasser off Roof to Help Police

Category: Human Interest


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. standoff / ˈstændˌɔf / (n) – an argument or problem in which no one is winning

    The standoff can be resolved only if one of them gives up.

  2. intruder / ɪnˈtru dər / (n) – a person who is not wanted or welcome in a place

    We need more policemen in our neighborhood to keep intruders from coming in.

  3. prompt / prɒmpt / (v) – to cause someone to act

    The loud noise prompted everyone to run.

  4. civilian / sɪˈvɪl yən / (n) – a person who is not part of the military or the police

    The police are in charge of civilians in this neighborhood.

  5. to no avail / tu noʊ əˈveɪl / (idiom) – having no positive effect or result

    I requested help from the police late last night but to no avail.


Read the text below.

An 83-year-old grandfather named Willard Burgess [WIL-erd BUR-jis] pushed a man off his roof to end a five-hour standoff at a California neighborhood.

According to reports, the unidentified intruder had been jumping from roof to roof since six in the morning, prompting local civilians to call the authorities. The police and crisis negotiators tried to convince the man to come down, but to no avail.

When the intruder landed on Burgess’ roof, the grandfather took matters into his own hands.

Burgess’ granddaughter recorded the incident. She told the intruder that they did not want to hurt him and simply wanted him off their roof. Refusing to come down, the man jumped to another roof. However, he was threatened by Burgess’ neighbor, so he returned to the grandfather’s roof.

At this point, Burgess climbed up to their roof using a ladder. When he reached the top, he pushed the intruder off. The intruder landed on Burgess’ car, cracking its windshield from the impact. The police then took the intruder to a hospital for a mental health check.

In an interview, Burgess said that old age should not prevent anyone from doing something to help.

In similar incidents across the United States, other senior citizens have also taken matters into their own hands to save the day. One grandfather saved his two-year-old grandson who drowned in a pond by performing CPR on the boy. Another grandmother, who was 56 years old, was also able to save the day when she stopped a man from hitting a police officer.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Do you think that what the 83-year-old grandfather did was heroic? Why or why not?
• If you were in the neighborhood, what would you have done to the suspect? Explain.

Discussion B

• Should civilians step in to help the police during their operations? Discuss.
• In your country, have there been instances in which civilians saved the day?