A 911 tape captures a harrowing call from a Westminster woman reporting an intruder in her home as she and her teen son hide in an upstairs closet.
"He's coming up right now," the panicked woman told a police dispatcher Friday afternoon. "Hurry, please. He's coming in."
Westminster police responded in about 2½ minutes and arrested 23-year-old Benjamin Davis Saffell after a brief struggle, said police spokesman Investigator Trevor Materasso.
But it felt like an agonizingly long wait for the mother and son cowering in the closet as the intruder banged on the bedroom door, demanding she unlock it.
Police dispatch supervisor Barbara Tuholski worked to calm the mother, reassuring her that officers were on their way, and telling her to stop talking as the intruder neared the family's hiding place.
"Calling 911 right away is extremely important, thats how we know where you are and that you need help, Materasso said.
The ordeal began when the woman spotted a suspicious man staring at her from across the street at about 4:07 p.m., he said.
"Something about this man didnt seem right. So she retreated into her house and locked the door behind her," Materasso said.
Moments later, the man was trying kick down her door, he said.
The woman grabbed her son and they ran to the second-floor master bedroom and locked the door.
Breathing hard, the woman called 911 and pleaded for police to come.
911 Call Captures Woman's Whispered Pleas For Help
"He's getting in now! ...Hurry! Hurry, he's getting in," the woman said on the 911 tape.
"Ma'am, we've dispatched officers," Tuholski said. "I'm just keeping you on the phone, OK?"
The woman relayed to the dispatcher as the man kicked in the garage door.
"He's in the house," she quietly said.
"Can you lock the door?" Tuholski asked.
"Yes, but he's going to come through right now," the woman said. "He's coming up right now. I'm going to put down the phone."
At one point the mother can be heard telling her son to take cover, saying "Get under there."
"It was adrenaline going and everything else like that. I didn't want her to talk because I didn't want him to know where she was," Tuholski said on Wednesday.
A small dog barked in the background.
"OK, Theresa," Tuholski said. "If you can't talk, don't talk."
Finally, the woman whispered: "He's coming in my room."
"You can hear him yelling and that's when I started to, you know, my adrenaline started going and I realized, 'Wow. He's right outside that door," Tuholski said.
The intruder can be heard on the tape, banging on the door, demanding: "Unlock the door."
"What do you want? Tell me what you want. I'll give you whatever your want," the mother said from the closet.
"You know what I want," the intruder replied.
"No, I don't. But I'll give it you. Just tell me what you want," the woman pleaded.
"Unlock the door," the man said.
"Do you want money?" the woman asked.
"Yes" the intruder said.
The dispatcher is heard telling colleagues, "I can hear him."
"OK," the woman bargained. "I'll give you money. How much do you want?"
"All of it," the man said.
Seemingly playing for time, the woman then asked if he wanted jewelry.
"Yeah," the intruder said.
She told him he could take her TVs.
"I was shocked that she was talking to him.," said Tuholski. "And then when she said 'Get a TV,' the first thought that went through my head was, 'That would be perfect'".
Police then are heard bursting in, barking commands at the intruder.
"Get your hands behind your back!" an officer ordered.
Police said Saffell appeared to be under the influence of drugs and was allegedly trying to get one of the televisions when he was stopped.
"Seven minutes after this terrible ordeal started (the mother) and her son stepped out of her closet into the safety of several Westminster police officers," Materasso said.
Saffell was booked into jail on suspicion of menacing, burglary, assault on a peace officer, obstructing a peace officer, resisting arrest, criminal mischief and theft, Materasso said.
The dispatcher said she wasn't the only one at the dispatch center who works hard.
"Mine is just one small call in the world that got the media attention and they all do it every day. I don't do it often anymore because I'm a supervisor, but when I do it I like to do it as well as I can," said Tuholski.
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