Officers with the Kingsport Police Department responded to a report of a home invasion at 3927 Bond Drive at about 9 p.m. Saturday.
According to a news release from KPD Public Information Officer Thomas M. Patton, the female resident, a 52-year-old white female, answered a knock at her door to find a woman holding a flyer about a lost dog.
As soon as she opened the door, a masked man stepped into the doorway, grabbed her arm and attempted to pull her outside, Patton said. When this initial assault proved unsuccessful, the masked man pushed the resident back inside the home and shouted, “This is a robbery!”
A struggle ensued, during which the resident was able to partially remove the mask from the suspect’s face. In doing so, she immediately recognized the man as Joe M. Sotello, a longtime family friend, according to the release.
The resident also noticed what appeared to be a handgun tucked in Sotello’s waistband, grabbed a baseball bat from behind the door and fought back, Patton said.
Two teenage witnesses, both 18-year-old females, were in the residence at the time and joined in defense of the resident. Together, the three women physically drove Sotello, 34, out of the house and onto the front lawn, according to the release.
Patton said the woman who had been holding the flyer, later determined to be Sotello’s girlfriend, fled to a silver Honda, and Sotello attempted to get into the car with her. However, he could not escape the three women.
Sotello’s girlfriend fled the scene in the vehicle, and he was eventually able to escape and flee on foot.
While still on scene, officers received new information that Sotello had surfaced at the residence of one of the alleged victim’s relatives, located in the 200 block of Archdale Drive. Another fight had erupted there, and the relative ultimately detained Sotello until police arrived, according to the release.
After initially declining medical treatment, Sotello, 3212 Hillview Drive, Kingsport, was charged with aggravated robbery and aggravated burglary and transported to the Kingsport City Jail.
Because of his injuries, Sotello was later taken to a local hospital for medical clearance before being incarcerated back in the Kingsport City Jail.
Patton said Sotello eventually confessed to his crime, stating that he “had been going through some hard times.”
According to the release, Sotello’s girlfriend came to the Justice Center of her own volition and confessed that her limited involvement in the incident had been done out of fear of Sotello and that she had no idea what he actually had planned to do. As of late Sunday, she had not been charged.
Sotello has since been transferred to the Sullivan County Jail in Blountville, where he remains confined, pending arraignment, in lieu of a $35,000 bond as specified by the presiding magistrate.
Patton said the female resident, at only 4-foot-11, was an entire foot shorter than Sotello, weighed nearly 100 pounds less than he did and was 18 years older. Yet, despite being at a clear physical disadvantage, she successfully defended herself and her home.