She was eating breakfast like she does every morning. Just then, two masked men walked in through the back door just before noon Thursday at her house on the 900 block of 10th Avenue.
Magdalena Corral, an 81-year-old woman who teaches at a church next to her house, was home alone and thought it was a prank pulled by youth group kids. When one of them pulled out a gun, she realized it was far from a joke.
Through a Spanish interpreter, Corral recalled what happened. “I said what are you guys doing here? And they told me to sit down and shut up, and they had a gun pointing at me. They told me to take off my earrings, my rings. They told me where was the gold where was the money and I told them we don’t have gold, we don’t have money.”
Corral said one man then took her to her grandson’s room, forced her on the bed and jammed the gun into her head, while the other ransacked the house.
“I was praying my son would not come in," she said, "because they had told me if somebody would come in they would shoot him.”
Finally, the gunman left the room to search the house. That’s when Corral said she snuck into the closet and called her daughter who then called police.
Altogether, Corral believes the two men stayed in her house for nearly an hour.
Thankfully, family members said Redwood City police were nearby and were able to catch one of the three suspects. They said Jovanni Martinez Aguilar, a 21-year-old from Redwood City, was spotted holding a pillow case stuffed with stolen items and arrested not far from the house. The gunman, described as 19 or 20 years old, and a woman who acted as the lookout are both still on the loose.
Vanessa Perez, the victim’s 24-year-old granddaughter who lives at the house, is worried for her family’s safety.
“It’s crazy to know there’s still someone out there with a gun that’s willing to do anything. Once you have them actually putting a gun on someone that’s basically defenseless, she uses a cane, how could you do that?" Perez said. "It explains there’s people out there that have no feelings. They have no love for nothing, no fear of law, no fear of God, nothing. It’s horrible knowing you live around people like that.”
She and the other family members said they take solace in knowing Corral stayed calm throughout the entire ordeal. “Grandma was even praying out loud and they told her to shut up, to not pray and shoved her inside the room.”
Joey Nava, a family friend who refers to Corral as “Grandma,” said the 81-year-old’s strength is inspiring. “She was looking for her cane, her eyes going back and forth. I asked why did u want the cane and she said, ‘So I could snap the gun out of their hands and tell them muchachos malo!’ That means bad kids.”
Corral said she isn’t going to do anything differently, except pray for the very men who threatened her life. She hopes they’ll someday turn their lives around.
“I think they’re so young and they’re wasting their lives doing this. We’re praying to god to save these young kids.”