Washington man detains suspected burglars at gunpoint

Bill Lahti explains how he discovered two suspected burglars inside his Woodland, Washington home.

Officials in Cowlitz County say a southern Washington man managed to keep a pair of suspected burglars at bay until the cops showed up. Now, the local sheriff's office is applauding his efforts.

It happened earlier this week in a rural Woodland neighborhood the Lahti family calls "our hill." To get there you have to travel up Lahti Road and that is where you will find a man with the same last name. Bill Lahti has lived there most of his life. His great-grandparents moved there to the hill from Montana years ago and his grandparents lived there too.

"Yeah, I mean one day he said, 'Yeah, some of this will be yours.' Yeah, he kept his word," Lahti said, recalling a conversation with his grandfather.

So when someone first broke into his family's home last week, you can imagine he went on the offensive.

"I kept coming back periodically to check in. So, Monday night, I roll up and there's their truck backed up to the front door in the yard. (The) door was about -- probably -- four inches open. I could see the light through there. So, I came out there, jumped out of my truck, kicked the door open and there they were," Lahti told KATU News.

Lahti, gun in hand, told the two men to get on their knees. Not only did he detain them until deputies arrived, he says his phone was not working, so he had one of the men call 911 on themselves. A spokesperson for Cowlitz County Sheriff's Office says the citizens' arrest is an example of the benefits of someone arming themselves safely, legally and with proper training.

Cowlitz County sheriff's deputies have identified the alleged burglars as 21-year-old Jared Barker and 18-year-old Aaron Vigna.

And remember that truck Lahti found backed up to his front door?

Lahti remembers it read, "College Pro Painters" on the side. According to the State of Washington Business Licensing Service and the Washington State Department of Revenue, Barker owns a "College Pro Painters" franchise.

Lahti, the hero-homeowner, as some neighbors are calling him, worries the pair could have done this before.

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