Second local home burglary stopped by alert neighbor

Man uses gun to confront three suspects in Colorado Springs

POSTED: 08:45 PM MST Dec 26, 2012    UPDATED: 12:02 AM MST Dec 27, 2012 
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -

For the second time this week, burglars target the home of a family away for the holiday -- only to be thwarted by a next-door-neighbor.

Colorado Springs police said that on Christmas Eve night, Chris Willner saw three strangers at his neighbor's home on Joseph Drive in east Colorado Springs.  The suspects had entered the home by throwing a brick through a sliding glass door in the rear.

"At first I thought maybe my neighbors had come home early," said Willner, a Fort Carson soldier.  "But I saw two men walking out of the front door with a flat screen TV."

Willner said he pretended that he didn't see them, then told his wife, Tracy, to call police while he got his handgun and went to confront the suspects.

Two of the suspects had found keys to the neighbor's car, Willner said, and appeared to be preparing to drive away with some of the neighbor's property.

"I grabbed the driver's side door," said Willner.  "I opened it up, I showed them I had a firearm, and I said you guys need to get out of the car.  Both of them started crying and screaming."

However, Willner said he never pointed the gun at the suspects.  As a result, they tried to run away and even struggled with him.  Two men escaped but police arrested a woman, Klarissa Watson, on suspicion of burglary.

Willner contacted the neighbors, who quickly returned home after learning of the incident.  They declined to comment.

Willner said the neighborhood has been target by home and vehicle burglaries recently.  Earlier this year, he said, his and his neighbor's home were burglarized but the incidents have brought the neighborhood closer.

"We have an alarm system in our house, and we've called our alarm company about upgrading some things on ours," he said.

Willner's wife said she once disliked guns but has since grown to be comfortable with them.  She works as an armed security guard and eventually wants to be a police officer.

"I feel like if my husband didn't have a gun in that situation, those suspects wouldn't have taken him seriously," she said. 

On Tuesday morning, a church pastor and some neighbors stopped a break-in at a home on East San Miguel Street.  Police arrested two women in that case but a man escaped.