Civilian’s pursuit, video help lead to capture of burglary suspect

The dirty, shirtless, bleeding man who broke into a home in Modesto’s Village I on Wednesday afternoon might still be wandering the streets if not for the quick thinking of a good Samaritan.

A mobile automotive technician named Tim was working on a car on Whistler Avenue near Roselle and Hillglen avenues when he heard a loud shrieking sound. Tim’s last name and the last name of the victim are being withheld for their safety.

He said he thought it was music, but then it got louder and soon he saw the woman who had been screaming at the man.

Amanda, another of Tim’s customers, had been home with her 4-year-old son.

She had just put chicken sticks in the microwave when she heard the door leading from her garage into her laundry room open.

Expecting to be pleasantly surprised by her husband home early from work, Amanda said she began walking toward the door and instead came face to face with the man.

For a moment, she couldn’t move. It was similar to an experience she had 25 years ago.

In 1991, Amanda was living in Costa Rica when a devastating 7.7 magnitude earthquake shook the country.

“I was so terrified, I couldn’t open my eyes and couldn’t move,” she said of experiencing the earthquake. “I hadn’t (since) experienced that kind of terror, until Wednesday.”

Amanda was paralyzed by fear during the earthquake, but she knew this time she had to get the man out of her home.

“I just screamed at him, ‘Hey, you, what are you doing? What do you want?’” she said. “I just got hysterical. I was yelling, ‘Get out of my house!’ 

The man followed her order and walked out her front door; Amanda followed while dialing 911.

She yelled out for her neighbors. She saw Tim and asked him for help and to take a picture of the man.

Before Tim could get out his phone to snap a picture of the man, he’d jumped over a fence into a backyard across the street.

“I was reluctant to get involved any further – to go over the fence and follow him – I didn’t know what type of person this was,” Tim said. “The thought came to my head, if this was my significant other who was home alone with our son and a guy came into our house, I would do something.”

So he followed the man, who had no shoes or shirt and whose torso was covered in tattoos. Tim said the man was filthy and dripping sweat. He kept spitting and he was bleeding from one of his hands.

Once Tim followed the man over two fences onto Palliser Court, Tim pulled out his phone and started shooting video of him.

On the video, Tim was heard asking: “What happened? Why were you in that house? Are you lost? You need water or what? Do you need me to call the police … or a medic?”

Early on, the man responded, “Back up, dude,” but mostly staggered onward, occasionally pulling up his pants.

Tim continued to tape the man as he hopped over another fence and was confronted by a dog, then went into the backyard of a home on Toronto Way.

Tim ran around the corner to meet him on the other side and found him standing on a fence.

“Put your hands up!” Tim ordered.

The man complied briefly, putting his hand on the the rain gutters of the home.

But when Tim made eye contact with the man, he pulled himself onto the roof.

That’s when Tim turned off the camera and called 911 to find out how close officers were.

The man stayed on the roof for about 15 minutes but jumped off, his chest hitting the fence he’d used to get to the roof.

He went south and over several more fences until he was cornered by a dog at a house at Palliser Way and Hillglen.

Modesto police then arrived and detained the man, whom they identified as 31-year-old David Britt.

This wasn’t Britt’s first run-in with law enforcement.

According to a news release from the U.S. attorney’s office in Sacramento, Britt was sentenced to five years three months in prison in 2011 for being a felon in possession of a firearm.

In addition, according to the release: “Britt had five prior felonies for a 2008 hit-and-run causing great bodily injury; a 2007 conviction for possession of a stolen vehicle; a 2005 conviction for being a felon in possession of a firearm; a 2003 conviction for attempting to possess stolen property; and a 2003 conviction for vehicle theft.

“This case was the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Central Valley Gang Task Force after Britt was identified as being a member of the Northern Ryders criminal street gang.”

After he was detained by officers Wednesday, Tim showed them his video of the pursuit and Britt was arrested on suspicion of burglary.

Amanda said she was still shaking when officers arrived at her home to interview her. She said she was still very rattled by the experience and having trouble articulating what happened.

Her 4-year-old gave a more succinct report to officers.

“He told the police, ‘The bad guy came in, mommy yelled at the bad guy, the bad guy yelled at mommy and she chased him out of the house,’ ” Amanda said, adding that her son described the man as having “lots of drawings on his top.”

Tim said Thursday, “I couldn’t sleep last night thinking of all the possibilities of what could have happened.”

He said Amanda was grateful for his help and bravery. “She said I was a hero. Honestly, I just kept an eye on him.”