Kathleen Burke said a man broke into her Northwest home after she left the door unlocked Saturday. She was physically assaulted by the intruder, whom she tried to report to 911 but kept getting recorded messages, she said. When she finally got through to a live operator, the man was gone.
D.C. woman Kathleen Burke said she was attacked Saturday by a home intruder. Metropolitan police are looking for the suspect.
A Washington, D.C., woman bravely fended off a brazen home intruder — only to get put on hold by 911, she said.
Kathleen Burke was recovering from the flu inside her Northwest neighborhood home Saturday afternoon when a man rang the doorbell twice.
Then she heard an unlocked side door swing open, she told NBC affiliate WRC-TV.
“For an instant I thought it must be my husband returning, and then I realized I hadn’t heard his car,” Burke said.
When she went to check, she came face to face with the treacherous trespasser, who was rummaging in a desk, according to The Washington Post.
“What are you doing?” Burke said she screamed. “Get out of my house! Get out of my house!”
The man — in his 50s, about 5-foot-8 to 5-foot-9 and weighing 150 to 170 pounds — pounced on Burke. He threw her to the ground, bruising her wrist.
Fighting back, Burke jammed her elbow into his ribs.
Burke said the intruder rang the doorbell on her home in Northwest D.C. and then walked right in.
That was apparently enough to frighten him — she pulled out her cellphone to call 911 as he fled.
But Burke said she didn’t get a human dispatcher, and instead was stymied by a recorded phone message. She said she tried “multiple times” to reach a live person while chasing the creep down the street.
“What was really to me astonishing and terrifying was that the interval (between the 911 call and the dispatcher’s answer) was sufficient that if this intruder had a weapon, there was sufficient time for this to escalate into a life-or-death situation,” Burke said.
Once she got through to an actual operator, Burke was told to stop chasing the intruder. Police arrived at her home quickly, she said, but by then the man had left the area.
At least two other unlocked-door burglaries in D.C. were also reported Saturday, according to The Post.
Burke said she left her door unlocked in the course of doing yard work that afternoon. Upset about the lack of immediate response with 911, she later contacted city officials for help.
D.C. Councilmember Muriel Bowser said Burke’s was the first complaint received about trouble getting through to a 911 operator, she told the Daily News on Monday.
Her office, she added, is investigating Burke’s case, but added that there’s been “no widespread home invasion problem.”