Tony Grein is only 5-feet-6 and 150 pounds. But when a naked, muscle-bound 6-3, 250-pound man attacked his 16-year-old sister Tuesday night outside their Delray Beach home, Grein’s instinct kicked in.
The 18-year-old Boynton Beach High School student tackled the man, narrowly allowing his sister to escape into the home. The assailant, identified as Anesson Joseph of West Palm Beach, bit into Grein’s face during a horrific attack that left the teenager with five stitches in his ear, teeth marks on his face and several nasty scratches.
Joseph, who also assaulted a 66-year-old retired New York City police officer during his Tuesday rampage, was shot by a Palm Beach County sheriff’s deputy in front of The Colony apartment complex on South Military Trail moments after he attacked the Greins. He later died.
Tania Grein said she was taking out the garbage around 8 p.m. when she saw a naked Joseph running menacingly toward her. Tony Grein had been working outside with his dad and saw his sister in trouble. As he screamed for Tania to run inside, Tony lunged at Joseph, grabbing whatever he could get his hands on.
“I was just aiming for him,” Tony said. “Anything to stop him from getting at my sister.”
Tania said Joseph nearly grabbed her hair, but she managed to run into the house and alert her father while Tony was battling with the much larger man.
“I think I would be dead or raped, or something bad would have happened to me, if my brother wasn’t there,’ Tania said Wednesday. “I feel like my brother is a hero.”
Tony Grein said Joseph was “ridiculously strong.”
“He starts biting right away, not a punch, not a hit like you would expect,” Grein said. “I was kind of shocked.”
What unnerved Grein even more was that Joseph appeared unable to feel pain. Grein jabbed at Joseph’s face with a box cutter he was carrying while working with his father. But despite gashing Joseph, there was no letup.
“It was that fear of, ‘This guy is invincible,’ ” Grein said.
The assault didn’t slow even when Mario Grein, father to Tony and Tania, ran outside and punched Joseph twice in the head.
“It didn’t faze him,” Mario Grein said. “He completely looked like he was on drugs. He was definitely on something.”
An automatic gate that closed while Joseph was assaulting Tony may have saved the young man’s life. The gate pinned Tony to the ground, but it also pushed Joseph off his body.
Joseph took off running east on Pine Tree Drive, then south on South Military Trail.
Deputies arrived and tried to calm Joseph, Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw said. Attempts were made to subdue Joseph with a Taser, but were unsuccessful.
“He’s obviously delirious on something,” Bradshaw said. “He is a huge guy. He takes a fighting stance. They’re trying to get him on the ground. He starts charging them. The Taser did not affect him.”
At that point, a sheriff’s sergeant fired three shots, one to the torso and two to Joseph’s lower extremities. Joseph, 28, was rushed to Delray Medical Center, where he died.
Douglas R. Kozlik, the retired police officer injured by Joseph, was taken to Delray Medical Center for treatment. Tony Grein also went to the hospital and was released early Wednesday.
“I’m very happy that it turned out the way it did, that he ran into the officers and they got a hold of him before he got ahold of more victims,” Mario Grein said. “He had plenty of strength to take out more people.”
Tony said he and Tania, who also attends Boynton Beach High School, have a “close bond.”
“We stick up for each other,” Tony said.
Mario Grein said he shudders when thinking what might have happened if Tony had reacted less bravely.
“My son is on the smaller side, but to me, my son is a hero,” Mario Grein said. “He saved my daughter’s life.”