As he thanked the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s dispatcher who took his dramatic phone call, the 7-year-old hero who locked himself and his sister in a bathroom and called 911 when armed robbers invaded his home explained how he knew what to do in such a terrifying situation — his mom makes him rehearse what to do in an emergency.
“We practice it every day,” the boy said at a Wednesday press conference.
The boy was introduced only as Carlos. His last name was not revealed by police because the three men who broke into his Norwalk, Calif., home Tuesday are still at large.
Wearing a Los Angeles Sheriff’s baseball cap, Carlos was cool while talking about his ordeal. The dispatcher who handled his call, Monique Patino, was the one who got emotional while recounting the dramatic call.
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According to police reports, three armed men burst into Carlos’ home after his sister went out to the car to retrieve her lunch box and left the house door open when she returned. While the gunmen confronted Carlos’ parents and held them at gunpoint, the quick-thinking Carlos took his sister and a phone into the bathroom and locked the door.
As he had been taught, he dialed 911.
Patino answered: “911. State your emergency.”
“Um, there’s some, um, there’s some guys that are going to kill my mom and my dad. Can you come, please?” Carlos replies.
Carlos was scared, the terror evident in his voice. But he was also collected and coherent, stating his situation and concisely answering Patino’s questions.
Fear through a phone
“Take a deep breath, I have officers coming,” Patino told Carlos.
“I knew something was wrong. I knew it wasn’t a prank call. I went with my instinct. I already had deputies going right [within] the first two seconds of the call,” Patino told reporters.
Later, Patino, who has two young children of her own, would dab at a stray tear when recalling the call, especially the last moments when the suspects broke into the bathroom. Screams erupt on the line as the men demand to know who Carlos had called.
Patino said she was emotionally affected by the call, especially not immediately knowing what the outcome was.
“Just hearing them screaming and crying for help. I just felt the fear through the phone,” Patino said. “I had to take a walk and shake it off a little bit.”
“If not for the brave and educated actions of the 7-year-old boy, this might have ended tragically,” said sheriff's Capt. Patrick Maxwell.
“I’m still astounded by his mind-set,” Los Angeles County Sheriff's Sgt. Douglas Jensen said. “To be able to think about getting his sister, grabbing his phone, locking himself in a bathroom and calling 911. It shows so much.”
At the sheriff’s office, Carlos shared a hug with Patino and told him how brave he was.
As Carlos was leaving the room after his press conference, a reporter asked a question about the screams that erupted on the 911 tape when the gunmen broke into the bathroom. Apparently, the questioner assumed it was Carlos screaming.
The hero quickly put matters straight.
“That was my sister!”
The Associated Press contributed reporting to this story.
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