13-year-old calls 911 during home invasion
TAMARAC, Fla. (WSVN) -- A 13-year-old girl's quick thinking and a 911 operator's guidance led police to arrest a couple accused of breaking into the South Florida residence where the girl and her younger sister were home alone.
Last Friday, Romel Bryan's daughters, 13 and 10, were by themselves in their residence along Northwest 73rd Terrace in Tamarac, while Bryan and his wife were away at work.
The girls frantically called their dad saying two people, a man and a woman, were banging on the house windows and asking for a man named Mike. "They got mad that we didn't answer the door, and they pounded on the window and it broke," said the older daughter.
Bryan, who was only a few miles away, started heading home. He said he drove even faster when the girls told him the two subjects had broken the front window. "When she said they broke the glass, the window, I said, 'OK, go through the back and run to the neighbor's house.' She said they were coming through the back too, so I said, 'OK, run back inside, hang up and call 911. I'm almost there,'" said Bryan.
"I had to get away [from the front door] and call the police," said the older daughter. The teen took her younger sister to the bathroom, locked the door and called 911 as the two burglars came in through a back door.
The dispatcher talked the girls through the situation until police arrived. "I felt no hesitation on her end, which made my job a lot easier," said 911 operator Shakita Ayodele.
Police released the following 911 call, Thursday:
911 operator: "Do you know the people that's inside of your home?"
Girls: "No, they broke the window."
911 operator: "Listen to me, they're on their way, OK?"
911 operator: "You said they broke on through the window?"
Girl: "Yes, they opened the back door and broke the window."
Girl: "Maybe they left cause I heard the door close."
911 operator: "Do me a favor, do not go out of that bathroom. Stay on the line with me, and I'll let you know when it's safe."
(Noise in background)
911 operator: "What happened?"
Girl: "My dad just came home."
(Yelling in background)
911 operator: "Put your dad on the phone."
Bryan made it back home after the burglars had left and shortly before police arrived. "If they would've waited five more seconds, I would've been there," said Bryan.
They girls were able to give a detailed description of what the couple was wearing and what they looked like. A neighbor was also able to write down the license plate of the suspects' getaway car.
Thanks to the information deputies were able to arrest 45-year-old Kevin Skolnick and 30-year-old Jennifer Senatore shortly after the incident.
The couple, who had gotten away with a laptop and other items, were charged with burglary and grand theft.
The girls, who never came out of the bathroom, were unharmed. "I just had to get away and call the police really quick. I was scared that they would get us or tie us or something," said the 13-year-old girl.
Ayodele said the 13-year-old's calm demeanor made getting help a lot faster. "She was so calm, and able to give me the correct and precise information," she said.
The young caller thanked Ayodele for helping her prevent panic and despair from taking over. "Thank you to her, because she kept us calm and not noisy, so they didn't think [anyone was home]."
The Broward Sheriff's Office believes this is a case of mistaken identity, and that Skolnick was looking for $5,000 that was allegedly owed to him from a previous drug deal.
The couple confirmed they were actually trying to break into another home from a drug deal gone bad. They remain behind bars. Skolnick is being held on $90,000 bond and Senatore on $11,100 bond.
The girls' parents said they will not leave them home alone anytime soon.
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