WEST DES MOINES, Iowa -- "I was doing my nightly rounds, going to visit my mother-in-law and father-in-law, when I walked up on three people that just finished urinating and getting in their car," said Ronald Cook, who is also known as "Cookie."
The urination in the parking lot on Friday night is what irritated 56-year-old Cook, a maintenance man at the Carriage Park Apartments in West Des Moines. The three young men Cook is referring to are in their early twenties: Malachi James Reed, Donald Egli, and Billie Davis. Cook says he asked the young men to leave, but the conversation turned physical.
"Three of them were around the car and Malachi took another half swing and I hit him," said Cook. "Him and Egli, he jumped in and was assaulting me with Reed. I finally defended both of them off, when Billie Davis snuck up behind me and put me in a choke hold."
Cook says he came close to death. His elderly in-laws were witnessed the fight.
"We was sitting on our deck and we just went out for coffee and my husband had his oxygen, and we seen three of them have him down," said Julia Bixler.
Julia's husband, Gerald--who is 80 years old and has diabetes as well as heart and back issues--got up and intervened.
"The next thing I heard was my father-in-law say, 'get off him,'" said Cook. "My father-in-law saved my life. I was just about done when my father-in-law pulled him off of me."
Eighty-year-old Gerald Bixler may have saved his son-in-law's life, but now he's in the hospital trying to recover from the injuries he suffered as a result of the incident.
"He just went to surgery," said his wife Julia. "He had his hip shattered. He was a high-risk surgery. He's now in ICU."
The West Des Moines Police Department stands by the way the incident was handled, saying there were conflicting statements given by witnesses at the scene.
"You know, if somebody does have a complaint on how we did the investigation, I just encourage them to come in and file a complaint, if they didn't like how it was done," said Public Information Officer Sergeant Anthony Giampolo.
The family is upset that only Reed was charged with assault. Egli and Davis were only charged with public intoxication.