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Thief Runs Out of Luck Trying to Carjack Van Full of Judo Team Members - 2002-08-20

The Florida International University judo team is in Miami after a trip to Los Angeles where the college students got a chance to demonstrate their martial arts skills under unusual circumstances. Team members are talking about the incident Sunday, when an unlucky alleged thief jumped into the judo team's car.

Most people would rather surrender their vehicles than risk their lives fighting off carjackers. Not this time.

Alleged carjacker Tyrone Hogan grunted in obvious pain after a run-in with the Florida International University judo team in Los Angeles, where the students were offering classes in self-defense.

The team spoke with reporters upon their return home. Black-belt judo instructor Nestor Bustillo says the incident began when Mr. Hogan approached him at a gasoline station demanding money.

"This guy comes towards me (and says), 'Give me a dollar.' And I said no," he said. "He turned around and came right at me. So I grabbed him in a choke hold."

As Nestor Bustillo describes it, his assailant managed to get away, but the judo instructor chased him to a vehicle that police say Mr. Hogan had stolen earlier in the day. Then, Mr. Hogan ran back to the gasoline station, jumped into the judo team's van and tried to make off with it - unaware he had just hopped into a vehicle with trained fighters inside. The students took matters into their own hands, among them, was 23-year-old Cristina Balducci.

"It was a free-for-all, punch, punch, punch, punch, punch. He (Hogan) got pretty jacked (beaten) up. He did not know what hit him," she said.

After inflicting numerous blows, the students say they pinned Mr. Hogan to the ground until the police arrived. The hapless alleged carjacker faces an array of charges.

Law enforcement officers counsel the public not to resist carjackers, since they may be armed. But a spokesman for the Los Angeles Police Department says, in this case, the judo team members did a commendable job of protecting themselves and their property - and teaching an alleged criminal a lesson.