Resident surprises burglar in action

He tackles, detains intruder found in living room

By Paris Achen, Columbian courts reporter

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An armed burglar, who entered a family's home late Sunday while a woman and her grandson slept upstairs, might have gotten away with the home invasion had the sleeping woman's son not gotten off work early that night from his job as a cook at Vancouver's Easy Street Bar & Grill.

The 35-year-old son, Jason Guerra, and his girlfriend, Machelle Smith, 36, arrived at the home about 11:30 p.m., put on their pajamas and went out into the garage to smoke a cigarette. When they returned inside the house, they saw a strange man standing in the living room. The man was holding a laptop and backpack, which belong to Guerra's 18-year-old son, Devin Koenig. Koenig and Guerra's mother, Susan Zeman, were sleeping upstairs at the time.

"At first, I didn't quite understand what was going on," Guerra said Monday. "We don't have random peple coming in at night. I said, 'Excuse me.' He didn't say anything. He just turned around, looked at me and tried to walk out the front door."

As the intruder opened the front door, Guerra tackled him from behind and overpowered him. Meanwhile, Smith, dressed in Mickey Mouse pajamas with a hood embellished to resemble mouse ears, called 911 from inside their home in the 3900 block of Plomondon Street, in Vancouver's Bagley Downs neighborhood.

Guerra said he held the intruder face down by wrapping his legs around the intruder's head and wrapping his arms around his torso.

"'Please, let me go. I just pooped my pants,'" the intruder said, according to Guerra.

Guerra said he didn't believe him at first.

"I thought he just wanted me to let him go," Guerra said.

Then, the intruder began to fight back to escape, he said. As they struggled, Guerra said he could smell the feces.

The struggle lasted for four to five minutes, Guerra estimated. It ended when Vancouver police arrived and used a Taser weapon to subdue the suspect, Guerra said.

"They got there reasonably fast, but those four to five minutes felt like forever," Guerra said.

Guerra said he and the suspect both had bruises, scrapes and bumps from the struggle, and his mother's flowerbeds were torn apart.

He later learned that the suspect was armed with a folding knife.

"Oh, my god, I'm lucky he didn't have a chance to get a hold of it," Guerra said.

Guerra said he usually leaves work between midnight and 2 a.m. but had come home early that night.

The suspect, Nathan M. Severin, 35, of Vancouver was transported to a local hospital for evaluation before being booked at the Clark County Jail, according to a court affidavit. While at the hospital, Severin kicked an on-duty nurse who was attending him in the arm and then kicked a police officer, who was trying to handcuff him, in the face, court records say.

Severin appeared Monday in Clark County Superior Court on suspicion of first-degree burglary and third-degree assault. Judge Scott Collier held him on $40,000 bail and appointed Vancouver attorney Ed Dunkerly to defend him. He is scheduled to be arraigned on the charges Tuesday.