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Grandpa wields handgun to scare off intruders

  • Brian Kehl
    Brian Kehl
Published March 10. 2014 05:01PM

An armed grandfather scared off two men who invaded a Lansford home on Feb. 27 and held his grandson while they searched the house for a third man.

One of the men, Joseph R. Becker, 31, of 208 E. High St. Coaldale, has been arrested. He's charged with robbery, criminal trespass and theft.

According to an affidavit of probable cause filed by borough officer Jason A. Helmer, here's what happened:

At 3:48 p.m. that day, Helmer was sent to a West Water Street home to check a report of two men who had entered the house without the owner's permission.

He spoke with David Knittle, who had called police. He told them that two white men had come into the house looking for a man they said owed them money.

Knittle said he told them the man didn't live there. He said the house was his daughter's home.

Police spoke with a teenage boy in the house, identified only as ZH. He said he was home alone when he heard a man yelling for a man named Cody and knocking on the door.

ZH told police he answered the door and told the man, whom he did not know, that there was nobody there by that name.

The man, later identified as Kehl, asked ZH to walk down the street; the boy complied, believing the man would leave.

While he walked down the street, ZH saw Becker, who he knew, get out of a small red car. He and the man who had knocked at the door then walked back to the house, still looking for "Cody."

Once back at the house, ZH said the man who had knocked on the door held him back in a bear hug and told him to not scream. Becker took his cell phone so he couldn't call for help.

ZH told the men to leave him alone. They went into the house to look for "Cody."

As soon as the man let him go, ZH ran to get his grandfather, Knittle, who called police.

Knittle armed himself with a handgun and confronted the men, who then left after a brief argument.

Knittle told police he recognized Becker from Facebook, and picked Kehl out of a photo lineup.

Becker was arraigned before on-call District Judge Joseph D. Homanko, Weatherly, and lodged in Carbon County prison under $50,000 cash bail. Becker's preliminary hearing is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. March 26 before District Judge Casimir Kosciolek, Lansford.

The other man is Brian Kehl, 30, who last lived in Summit Hill, and is still on the loose. He's charged with robbery, criminal trespass, and unlawful restraint of a minor. Anyone with information as to his whereabouts is asked to call Lansford police at 570-645-5844.

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