Family of man who died says he was defending them against neighbors who “went ape”

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Friends and family of a retired Quad City steelworker say he died trying to protect them during an unprovoked surprise attack in their own backyard.

Davenport Police say they are still investigating and interviewing both sides in the Friday night fight, and are waiting for autopsy results to see what killed 65-year-old Steve Burton of Davenport.

"He was everybody's uncle. A gentle giant, who took care of everybody," said friends of Burton.

''My dad, basically what he did was defend me because one of the guys, when they started rushing the patio, they came at me," said Lisa Elliot, Burton's daughter who was there when her father died.

It happened in a normally quiet neighborhood on the city's west side at 3106 Homestead.

Jaymie Bryant and Kelly Teuscher have rented the home for a couple of months and dispute that the altercation was the result of any kind of neighborhood feud.

"There was no fight. They attacked them on the patio. They had their backs turned when these five guys rushed over," said Teuscher.  ''Who does that? These men are in their twenties.  He's a 65-year-old man. Who does that?" she asked.

"All the neighbors say the same thing, they've had issues with this neighbor," said Bryant. "In fact, at 4:30 Friday afternoon, when I came home from the bank, he was wielding a baseball bat and trying to chase his cousin with a baseball bat," he said.

Bryant says the  group included his next-door neighbor and his friends, about five in all. He says Burton, who was more than six feet tall, stood up and tried to protect them.

"He tried to avoid the confrontation. We were all like, 'What are you doing?' They just went ape," Bryant said. 

"The neighbors say they saw Steve go down and they were kicking him in the head," Burton said.

"They are in our yard! I don't understand. Now I feel guilty. I have a close, dear friend that's gone now. I feel like if I wouldn't have lived next door to this guy, it wouldn't have happened," Bryant said.

Funeral services are set for Friday for Burton, who lost his wife fifteen years ago.

"I just hope these guys are caught soon and proper action is taken. The only thing that gives me peace is he's there with my mom in heaven," said Elliot.