Child calls 911 after home break-in
TAMPA (FOX 13) - A quick-thinking 11-year-old girl kept herself and her little brother safe when a burglar broke into their south Tampa home on Friday while they were home alone.
"My heart was beating. I could hear my heart beat, and it was just really scary."
Annabelle Sanders was sitting in her living room, watching the television with her 7-year-old brother Brody Friday night while their mother left the home briefly to go to a store.
She heard a knock at the door, but when she looked out the window, she did not recognize the car. Neither child answered the door as the burglar knocked for several minutes.
"At that point they were kind of kicking at the door, so I grabbed the phone and went into my mom's bathroom," Annabelle explained.
Sanders called her mother, Jill Burks, to tell her what was happening. As they spoke on the phone, she heard the sound of a window shattering in her brother's room.
"The glass broke. The glass was very loud. I could hear the window breaking, and then, my heart stopped," said Burks. She tried to ask her daughter what was happening, but the phone line went dead.
As Burks called 911, pleading with operators to get officers to her house, she had no idea her daughter was already on the line with dispatchers.
"Someone was knocking at the door. It sounded like somebody was at the window, and they broke through. I think they broke through the window," Annabelle told the operator, as she hid in the locked master bathroom along with her brother.
Sanders said she learned what to do in an emergency when Tampa Police visited her classroom in school.
"Always make sure you hide, be quiet, call 911 if there's an emergency," Sanders said.
She described the burglars every movement to the 911 operator, as he walked through the bedrooms and into the kitchen, rummaging through drawers.
Despite not knowing her home address, Tampa Police were able to locate the home within less than five minutes, because she called 911 on a landline.
The sound of police scared the burglar away. He ran out of the front door, knocking down part of the family's fence leading to the backyard as he tried to hop it.
Police chased the suspect, quickly locating 18-year-old Andre Levon Russell one block over, hiding inside a closed daycare center. Russell was charged with burglary of an occupied dwelling and burglary of a daycare center. Officers located an iPad, silverware and other electronics scattered in the family's backyard.
"I'm so proud of her. She handled that so well," said Burks.
The mother of two said she plans to have more discussions with her children in the future about what to do in an emergency.
According to police, it is vital parents teach their children when it's appropriate to dial 911 and important information, such as their home address, their parents' names and their phone number in case they need to share it with dispatchers.