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Man who captures intruder 'was just protecting my family'

Originally ran here as:
Glendale man 'was just protecting my family'
by Chris Pollock, Staff Writer
The News-Review
April 19, 2002

GLENDALE, OREGON -- Everyone knows you don't mess with Texas. But as one man learned Sunday morning, you don't mess with Gerald Heggstrom of Glendale, either.

Heggstrom, 52, captured an intruder in his garage early Sunday morning and held him at gunpoint until police arrived.

The Douglas County Sheriff's Office arrested Keith W. Newman, 39, and charged him with burglary and criminal trespassing. He posted 10 percent of his $7,500 bail and left the jail Wednesday.

Described on a police report as a "transient from New York via Eugene," Newman had walked up to the Reuben Road house Gerald Heggstrom shares with his wife, Audrey, and banged on the door at about 2 a.m. Audrey Heggstrom, a millworker who said she is a night owl because she works a late shift, had dozed off in the living room.

"There was a loud enough noise that it startled me," she said. "I looked out the window and he was standing by the front door."

She then woke her husband. Because his wife seemed concerned, Gerald Heggstrom retrieved his Glock .45-caliber semi-automatic pistol and gave it to her to hold before answering the door. He remembers being in a foul mood over a stranger disturbing his household at such an hour. Like Audrey, Gerald Heggstrom is a millworker but works the day shift.

"I came to the door and asked what he wanted," he recalled. "I was pissed off. Nobody should be up at two in the morning, banging on peoples' doors."

Newman asked for a woman named "Katy" and walked away toward the road after he was told no such person lived there. Gerald then went back to bed, but his wife was wide awake.

"The adrenaline was still pumping from being startled like that," Audrey said. "I was sitting watching TV and the security light on the front porch came on 15 minutes later. I went into the kitchen and looked out the window, and just then I saw him go into the garage."

Audrey saw Newman enter a side door on the garage and turn on the lights before shutting the door. Gerald was rousted from bed a second time and left the house gun-in-hand to confront Newman.

"I walked over to him with the gun pointed right at him and asked him what the hell he was doing," Heggstrom said. "It got his attention. He said he heard voices in the garage and he was going to check them out."

Audrey called the sheriff's office, and deputies arrived about 20 minutes later to take Newman into custody. Looking back, she said it taught her a lesson in safety awareness.

"It scared me pretty good, the whole incident did," she said. "I was up until after daylight that morning. Before then, we didn't even keep our car doors locked. We had gotten very comfortable. Now we keep our cars and garage locked all the time."

Gerald said he was prepared to do the same thing if anyone else ever trespassed.

"I was just protecting my family and my property, as far as I was concerned," he said. "He would've been all right if he'd left the first time."

You can reach reporter Chris Pollock at 957-4213

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