‘It happened so fast.’ Victim of violent attack during catalytic converter theft speaks with News 12
Luke O’Brien, 60, has more than 300 stitches in his face after trying to stop a catalytic converter theft. Talking is hard for him right now, but the Milford man spoke exclusively with News 12 about what happened. O’Brien knows he could’ve been killed. “He just missed my artery by an inch,” he said.
The attack happened around 2 a.m. Tuesday morning. O’Brien said he was asleep when he woke to a grinding noise coming from outside his house on Concord Avenue.
“I knew it was a grinding wheel because I work with grinding wheels and Sawzalls,” O’Brien explained. He said he looked out the window and saw a car with someone inside parked in front of the driveway he shares with a neighbor.
“So, I ran downstairs. As I was running towards the car, the other guy came from the side. I never saw him. He blindsided me and ran across with a grinding wheel,” said O’Brien as he gestured to the gash running from ear to lip on the right side of his face. He told News 12 the tool fell and also cut his shoulder, knees and foot.
He said Milford police responded right away.
“The suspect was described as a tall, thin male wearing black clothing and a black facemask,” said PFC Marilisa Anania, of the Milford Police Department. “Right now, the only suspect information we have besides that description is that they were operating a gray sedan missing a headlight.”
It's the second time in a month someone stealing a catalytic converter has attacked a witness to the crime. Police said it happened during daylight hours in the busy Target parking lot on May 17. In that case, the suspect was seen cutting a catalytic converter off a car with a Sawzall. When the suspect noticed someone taking pictures of him, he went after the witness and slashed his arm with the handheld saw.
“We don't want you to confront somebody committing a crime,” said Anania. “We want you to contact us from a safe, concealed place, keep us on the phone, describe the situation to us, and give us as much information as possible.”
O’Brien admitted he shouldn’t have run out but told News 12 that was his first instinct. He’s lived in the neighborhood for 28 years, a quiet street with a dead end, and said he never worried about his safety before.
“You don't expect it,” he said, adding that the violence happened in a split second. Recovery will take much longer. His stitches come out in six weeks, which will be followed by rehab. O'Brien is a self-employed carpenter and handyman who will now be out of work for several months. He also doesn’t have health insurance so a GoFundMe account has been started to help his family.
Police are asking anyone with information on the attack to contact Det. Mahoney at email@example.com or 203-783-4727.