DETROIT (WXYZ) - The family of the Vietnam veteran who was killed on Wednesday after saving his granddaughter from thieves held a vigil Friday night in his honor.
The vigil was held in front of his home at 9 p.m. on the 6000 block of Rutland Street in Detroit.
Detroit Police say they have a male suspect in custody in connection with the murder. His identity has not been released.
Villneff's family says the 62-year-old was a Vietnam veteran who received two Purple Hearts. He had one son, two daughters, and 12 grandchildren.
He lived next door to his daughter’s house on Rutland on the city’s west side. His adult children were out enjoying a Tigers game. His grandchildren, who are between the ages of 10 and 16 were at home together Wednesday night when young men with guns and a bat came to their home.
Relatives say the young men attacked the 16-year-old, hitting him in the head with a baseball bat. They demanded what was inside a safe at the home. They soon learned the safe contained almost nothing of value, but Melissa felt as though that was a decoy. She believes they were really after her shotgun. She says they forced the teen to produce the gun, and when he couldn't, they beat him. They then stole a Wii and an Xbox.
A 12-year-old girl at the home managed to take pictures of the suspects as they committed their crime. She then ran from the home towards her grandfather’s home next door. He came out to see what was wrong. The war veteran saw armed men coming for her, covered her, and pushed her into the safety of his home as he was shot.
He died at his home.
“I didn’t get to tell him I love him,” said Michael Villneff. “He is a hero.”
The funeral for 62-year-old John Villneff is scheduled for Tuesday at 11 a.m. at the Swanson Funeral Home off East Grand Blvd. The viewing will be on Monday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
John Villneff’s 16-year-old grandson is currently recovering in the hospital.
Doctors say Terrance Villneff suffered a broken jaw and head trauma. The soon to be senior at Robechaud High School is in stable condition. He received five stitches, and his jaw was wired shut.
The family says Terrance is recovering well from the head trauma, but will need to see a specialist.
Family members say they know at least two of the young men involved in the robbery and murder. "They've been to my house. They ate my food. They showered in my shower," said Melissa.
They now hope police can lock them away where they can’t hurt anyone else.
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