A quick-thinking California teenager hid with her young niece in a bathroom when an intruder kicked in their front door, police said.
Savannah Jones, 14, was babysitting her sister’s 4-year-old daughter after school when she heard a loud knock on the door of her Montclair home at about 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, her mother told InsideEdition.com.
“I’m on my way home, and she texted me, ‘Are you expecting anybody? Because someone’s at the door,'" Maria Muratalla said. “Next thing you know, she’s telling me, 'They’re trying to open the door!'"
After repeatedly banging on the door, the suspect started kicking it, eventually breaking open the entrance and barging in, Montclair Police said.
By that point, Savannah had whisked her niece into a bathroom near her mother’s room and joined the little girl to hide, texting her mother because the terrified teen did not want the man to hear.
"It’s a horrible feeling knowing your kids are in danger and you can’t get to them," said Muratalla, who was stopped in traffic while receiving her daughter’s text messages. “Knowing what they’re going through [and] you can’t do anything about it, it’s terrifying."
Muratalla called a neighbor, who called 911, and rushed to the home, where the suspect went through two bedrooms, including one that adjoined the bathroom, before fleeing.
He did not take anything from the home, Muratalla said.
“I don’t know what he was looking for,” she continued.
Only after she was sure that he was no longer in their home did Savannah come out of the bathroom. She was met by police, who Muratalla said had their guns drawn.
“That’s when my granddaughter started crying,” she said, noting how impressed she was with the bubbly child’s ability to remain calm.
“I’m surprised a little girl could stay that quiet. She’s a very hyper child, but she did what Savannah was telling her. Savannah kept her calm. I’m very proud of her,” Muratalla said.
Police and a K-9 officer searched the area, but the suspect is still at large.
"Just the fact that he’s out there...," the distraught mother said, her voice trailing off.
She plans on installing a security system and has had to replace her front door, she said.
She said she also plans on getting counseling for her daughter.
"It was a very dramatic thing, and she’s doing okay, but she’s going to need therapy," Muratalla said. "You never think it’s going to happen to you. It was daylight."
The suspect is described as a black, bald man who is between 20 and 30 years old. He was wearing a dark-colored sweatshirt and jeans, police said.
A reward of up to $1,000 is being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the suspect. All tips can be made by contacting the Montclair Police Department at 909-621-4771.