SAN DIEGO - An elderly man who was beaten with a tire iron during a home invasion in Lake Murray spoke with 10News on Tuesday about his frightening encounter.
Tom Hoover's face is heavily bruised and his jaw was broken.
"Yes, I did take a beating," he told 10News reporter Steve Fiorina. "I thought they were going to kill me."
Two men invaded the home of the retired Navy flight engineer after one rang the bell, asking if he needed help with any chores. The other had apparently broken in through a back door.
"Came up behind me with a tire iron and struck me about three times on the head, real quick," said Hoover. "My head literally exploded when he hit me the first time."
The 80-year-old homeowner fell to his hands and knees. They broke his jaw and split open his scalp.
"There's a huge area on the back of my head where they opened it up with the tire iron," he said.
The pair dragged Hoover through the house, demanding money.
"They continued beating me and saying, 'Where's the money? We know you've got money in here. We've heard you've got money. Where is it? ... Let's get it,'" said Hoover.
Moments later, police arrested two men down the street because someone driving by saw them with the crowbar and became suspicious.
Joshua Jett, 23, and Adam Donaldson, 17, face charges that include robbery, elder abuse and burglary. Although Donaldson is 17, he is being prosecuted as an adult. Both could go to prison for nine years.
Hoover watched the TV coverage of the incident and wondered.
"Well, I was thinking, 'Why? What in the world made you feel you had to do this?'" he said.
When asked about possible punishment, Hoover responded, "The worst… Whatever could be the worst for them, that's what I wish for them."
Hoover just returned home from the hospital and was warmly welcomed by neighbors who had been concerned and outraged. As he thought of them, he wiped away some tears.
When asked what it meant to have those friends, Hoover said, "The world… the world."
Hoover said he was grateful that he was alone when he was attacked. A neighbor had just left his home.
The Navy veteran has been transformed and is no longer as trusting.
"Certainly going to get a weapon," he said. "Good or bad, I'm going to get a weapon."
He is also planning additional security measures for the house.
Hoover's wife died in October. They had lived in the Lake Murray house – surrounded by close friends – for 40 years. He has a wonderful network of support.
"I would have expected no less... from the neighbors," said Hoover.
"Your friends," said Fiorina.
"Yes," said Hoover.
It was a thoughtful, emotional moment for a man who has been through a rough several months.