BERWYN – Jason Brambila may have been thinking it was just one of those days as he cleaned his bedroom in his Berwyn home about 1 p.m. July 31.
But within an hour, he would experience the terror of the unexpected and have the courage to hang tough until the law arrived.
City and police officials honored Brambila with a proclamation and certificate when they met Aug. 13 for his part in the apprehension of a man who allegedly broke into the boy’s home with the intent to commit a burglary July 31.
Raymond Mark Lopez, 34, of the 2800 block of South Drake Avenue, Chicago, was charged with two counts of residential burglary. Lopez told police he was unemployed and was trying to get money to bond out his wife, who is currently being held on an aggravated arson charge out of Riverside.
It was about 1 p.m. when Brambila, who was cleaning his bedroom, heard the doorbell ring. He walked to the front door, and looking out the window, saw a man standing there.
“He looked real suspicious, so I didn’t want to open he door,” the 15-year-old recalled.
So he returned to his bedroom and his chores. Soon his chihuahua, Rocky, began barking in a startled tone like only a chihuahua can, Brambila said. He looked down the hall from his bedroom into the kitchen, and his blood ran cold. There, on the porch, stood the suspicious man, slitting the screen of a window with a knife.
“I was scared,” Brambila said. “When I saw him, I didn’t know what to think, but I knew it could get a lot worse. My phone was on the kitchen table so I grabbed it and ran.”
Back to the bedroom, he locked himself in his closet and dialed 911. On the other side of the line were dispatchers Mia Alvarez and Lindsay Fellows.
“They were trying to make me calm, because I didn’t know if I was talking too loud,” Brambila said. “My nerves were out of control. The adrenaline went to a thousand in a second. They just started asking me questions, like what was my favorite color, the school I went to. Just stuff to keep me calm.”
Then, through Rocky’s hysterical barking, came the sound of the man jumping through the window. Brambila said he heard Rocky squeal one or two times, probably from being kicked by the man, he believed.
The man bypassed Jason’s bedroom and headed straight for his mother’s room, where he grabbed a pillow case from a pillow and began throwing anything of value he could find inside. But he didn’t get far.
Brambila said he thought he heard the sound of someone on a speaker phone warning the man that police were just around the corner. At that point, the man ran from the back door, down the gangway and into the street, right into the arms of responding police officers.
Brambila said the whole horrific event lasted only a few minutes from start to finish.
“[The burglar] didn’t have time to do anything,” he said.
Police Chief Michael Ritz called the boy’s actions a textbook response of how to deal with such a situation.
Maria Brambila was at work at the time, and didn’t have her cellphone near her. A short time later, she looked at the phone and saw that her son had called.
“He was in the closet at the time,” she said.
She was then contacted by police, who informed her of what had happened.
“I was terrified because I was at work and I didn’t know if my son was hurt,” she said. “All I heard was this guy had a knife. God protected Jason. That’s all I can say.”
Maria Brambila said her son was smart to hide out in the closet and wait for the police.
“And the police did an amazing job,” she said. “They got here in minutes and they had the guy. Thank God everything worked out.”
Also named in the proclamation were dispatchers Alvarez and Fellows; Sargeant George Janesek; officers Patrick Tovar and Mike Schwanderlik; Unit Cmdr. Joe Santangelo; detectives Mike Fellows, Karlas Robinzine, Robert Amory, Gavin Zarbock, David Green and Commander Mike Cimaglia.