Steeple Run man fires shots to scare away intruder
BY BILL BIRD firstname.lastname@example.org December 11, 2012 3:20PM
Updated: January 13, 2013 11:07AM
Bruiser the Silky Terrier likes waffles with whipped cream and a particular brand of gourmet ham.
It’s a safe bet he’ll be feasting on plenty of both for the foreseeable future.
Bruiser’s master, Richard V. Niemiec, credited his ironically-named, 13-pound, 5 1/2-year-old best friend with saving his life early Tuesday morning, after an apparently armed intruder broke into their home in the unincorporated Steeple Run area of DuPage County on the Naperville-Lisle border.
Niemiec, 69, said he fired an estimated eight shots from a 9-mm automatic handgun at the burglar, but was uncertain whether any of the bullets hit their mark.
The apparent home invasion occurred about 5:45 a.m. in Niemiec’s house on the 24W700 block of Woodcrest Drive. Niemiec, a self-described bachelor, said he was sound asleep when Bruiser “jumped up on the bed and scratched my face,” something he rarely does.
Bruiser looked toward the staircase leading to the main floor of the house, Niemiec said late Tuesday during a brief, fast-paced telephone interview. “All of a sudden I hear the noise, so I grab the high-point gun” kept nearby, he said.
“I go downstairs, and a curtain from the kitchen is on the floor,” Niemiec said. “Then this person comes to the middle of the stairs, so I yell, ‘Freeze!’”
“It looks like he’s bringing his gun up to shoot me. So I just let eight rounds fly.”
The possibly-wounded gunman raced out a rear door and through Niemiec’s back yard.
“The footprints in the frost on the grass went from the back of my house” toward the campus of Steeple Run Elementary School, he said. The school is located at 6S151 Steeple Run Drive.
Nearly two dozen police cars descended on Woodcrest Drive following Niemiec’s 911 telephone call. He said police helicopters were soon flying over the area in search of the intruder, and that a caravan of Chicago-area television station camera trucks quickly made its way into the neighborhood.
He added he did not have any known enemies and did not know why his house had been targeted by the gunman.
Niemiec cut the interview short, indicating he need to go outside to deal with the Tuesday evening arrival of yet another television news crew.
But before he did, he mentioned Bruiser’s fondness for whipped cream-topped waffles and a special brand of ham.
“I’m gonna make some pulled pork right now for both of us,” he said.
“The dog saved my life.”
A news release issued shortly after noon by DuPage County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Dawn Domrose confirmed an intruder fled toward Steeple Run Elementary School after entering a “residence” and being confronted by its owner. It did not mention weapons or gunfire.
Susan E. Rice, director of communications for Naperville School District 203, said police ordered a lockdown at Steeple Run school before 7 a.m., saying “a potentially armed intruder” was in the area.
“Because it was before school, students on buses were diverted to Kennedy (Junior High School),” Rice stated via e-mail. “Parents were notified to keep their students who walk or car pool to stay at home until further notification.”
“Police officers informed the district when it was safe for students to return to school,” Rice said. “District 203 buses arrived at Kennedy and transported the students safely back to Steeple Run.”
Arriving students were met by school staff members and accompanied to their classrooms, Rice said. She emphasized the intruder never entered school property.
Meanwhile, the students’ parents were notified of the situation via the TALK203 emergency system, which incorporates e-mail, voice mail and text messaging.
Lisle police Watch Cmdr. Ron Wilke late Tuesday night confirmed several of the department’s officers went to Steeple Run to assist the sheriff’s department following the incident. Lisle police were also sent to the campuses of Benet Academy, Kennedy Junior High School and Lisle High School as a security measure, Wilke said.
Information about the suspect was sketchy. The intruder was described as tall and thin and wearing a black hooded sweatshirt, but details about gender, race or approximate age were not known.
“It is an open and ongoing investigation, so as soon as we have more, we’ll send it,” Domrose said Tuesday afternoon. Updated information had not been provided as of 11 p.m. Tuesday.
Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call the sheriff’s office at 630-407-2400.
Susan Frick Carlman contributed to this report.