Woman Wakes to Burglars in Home, Chaotic Chase Ensues
Three men and one woman face felony charges after Wauwatosa resident calls 911 for a burglary in progress. Within minutes, officers were involved with a runaway car, a gunshot and a wakeful neighborhood full of running crooks.
A Wauwatosa woman, home alone in bed, woke up at 4 a.m. last Wednesday to the sounds of shoes squeaking on her floors downstairs. She opened her bedroom door a crack and definitely heard more than one person moving around in her house.
She called the police, and within minutes, three burglars were fleeing in two cars — one of them hers — with police close behind.
Two men in the other car abandoned it while it was still moving up the street and ran into the night, officers now chasing on foot.
A gunshot rang out, and at least one man raced out of his house into the middle of the mayhem as alarm overtook the neighborhood.
"Burglary when someone is home is never good," Wauwatosa Police Capt. Jeff Sutter said. "It's always bad — just really bad things happen.
"But there was some good work done, in the end."
Indeed. Officers soon captured one suspect, and by the end of the next day had three more in custody with enough evidence to seek charges.
More than that, the arrests likely solved a number of other recent crimes, including at least one other burglary and another car theft in Wauwatosa.
Four face felony charges
The following were charged Sunday in Milwaukee County Court:
- Quran R. Hereford, 18, of Milwaukee, charged with burglary and vehicle theft.
- Damian Smith, 21, of Milwaukee, charged with burglary and misappropriating identification to obtain money.
- Lamark A. Hubanks, 17, of Milwaukee, charged with burglary and vehicle theft.
- Porscha L. Long, 22, of Milwaukee, charged with misappropriating identification to obtain money.
According to police reports:
The victim, a resident of the 1200 block of North 64th Street, after realizing burglars were in her home, looked out her window to see "dark figures" running between her house and a dark-colored van or SUV at the curb.
She dialed 911, and when she looked out again, the vehicle was gone — and she didn't realize it was her own. She ran downstairs to find a window shattered and a lot of her possessions missing.
A patrol officer dispatched to the home was approaching on Milwaukee Avenue when he heard a second call come in describing the vehicle seen leaving. Just at that moment he saw headlights lighting up the corner of 64th and Milwaukee.
A dark SUV followed by a red Chevy Impala turned right onto Milwaukee Avenue and then left onto North 60th Street. The SUV turned right onto Galena Avenue just as the officer tried to make the stop.
'Bad things' keep happening
The Impala did slow and pull to the curb, but instead of stopping, the two men inside, now known to be Hereford and Smith, jumped out of the moving car and ran into yards east of 60th.
More officers were entering the area by the second, including Milwaukee squads, and one Tosa officer raced after the still-moving car to stop it. As he did so, he distinctly heard a gunshot — and was the only officer to hear it.
He managed to secure the Impala and was trying to take his place in the perimeter when a neighborhood resident jogged up to him to tell him he'd just seen two men run through his yard — and heard one of them ask if the other had been shot.
"So, you've got two bad guys running loose among the houses, a car ghost-riding up the street, an officer after it, who hears a gunshot that no one else hears, and a citizen trying to be helpful," Sutter said. "This is what I mean by bad things."
Fortunately, no one was hurt, and an officer soon spotted Hereford crawling out from under a car in the driveway of a home in the 5700 block of Washington Boulevard.
Smith escaped on foot and Hubanks disappeared in the stolen SUV.
Evidence quickly mounts up
The Impala was found to be full of property stolen in the burglary, including a large TV, a laptop computer and a video game system.
Also taken in the break-in was the victim's wallet, containing her ID and credit cards. Within hours, police began to get real-time reports of attempts to use one of the woman's cards, and they soon zeroed in on Long and then on Hubanks, her brother. Long has a child with Smith, her boyfriend.
Long, found at her Milwaukee home, confessed that the two often brought her stolen credit cards and other "gifts," including the purse she had with her, reported stolen in a burglary in Milwaukee.
She also revealed that Hubanks, Smith and another man whom she did not know had not just stolen the Chevy Impala but had car-jacked it from its owner.
An inventory of the home turned up a wide assortment of other stolen property, including several cell phones that were traced to thefts and break-ins.
In the process of seeking the burglary victim's stolen SUV in an open garage in the alley behind Long's home, police came across a car stolen from The Reserve apartment complex in Wauwatosa on July 13.
Finding the smoking gun
Police obtained a full statement from Hereford, who admitted his part in the burglary and implicated the others.
Hereford said he had been driving and left the car in gear when he and Smith bailed out in the hope that the officer chasing them would have to detour to stop it before following them.
He also admitted he had a gun, and after first saying he'd tripped and accidentally pulled the trigger, he admitted he'd purposely fired a shot into air in an attempt to frighten off any followers — just as he's done in his neighborhood when being hassled by the "Burleigh Boys" street gang.
He told officers that after he had fired, Smith said to him, "You did not just fire at the police?! That is some serious time!"
He said he then quickly hid the gun and ran on after Smith. He told officers exactly where he had put it, and they found the Hi Point .380 under a rock at the end of a downspout by a garage.
"So, if he doesn't fire a shot, we'd never have known he had a gun," Sutter said. "If one officer hadn't heard the shot, we'd never have known he had a gun."
Untreated wounds may be giveaway in another crime
Hereford, it was noticed, had numerous cuts all over his limbs and body, which led detectives at first to believe he had sliced himself up crawling through the window the three burglars broke to enter the woman's home.
But on closer examination, many of the wounds turned out to be scabbed over or infected to the point of suppurating. That led to more questioning, and detectives are now confident they will positively connect Hereford with a home burglary on July 10 in the 3200 block of North 105th Street.
In that incident, eerily similar, a neighbor heard glass breaking and looked out to see three "dark figures" running through his yard. The victim of the break-in happened to come home just moments after the burglars left and before police arrived.
Detectives found blood smeared all over the TV and game room the burglars had rifled, as well as on shards of glass from the window they'd broken to enter, and even on the neighbor's garage.
They collected DNA samples from every spot and sent them to the State Crime Lab for identification.