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10 Heroic Teens Who Fought Back Against Criminals

by Amanda
fact checked by Jamie Frater

Children are the most vulnerable members of society. According to the National Institute of Justice, adolescents are more likely to be victimized than their adult counterparts. Due to their trusting nature and typically weak strength, they are seen as easy prey by criminals. But some children are quite capable of fighting back, defending themselves and those around them, sometimes with fatal consequences for the perpetrator.

10 Alex Leek

In January 2014, 14-year-old Alex Leek from Independence, Missouri, returned home from school to find a stranger in the house. The man, later identified as 24-year-old David R. Smith, was rummaging through the family’s electronics. Seeing the teenager, the burglar fled the scene, taking Leek’s cell phone and approximately $1,000 worth of merchandise with him. Unable to call the police without his phone, Alex decided to follow the suspect.

Alex remained behind the perpetrator and tried to stay hidden as best he could. As he followed Smith down the street, he tried to get help from passersby, telling them that the man had robbed his house, but no one would help the young boy. Alex followed Smith to the library and once inside, flagged down a security guard and told him what had happened. The guard approached Smith, who stopped and dropped a few of the stolen items. Smith told the guard that it was actually Alex who had robbed him while he was at home playing video games. Smith then fled the scene but was apprehended by police a few blocks away.

Smith was charged with second-degree burglary and theft. All of Alex’s family’s stolen items were returned. Alex told reporters that he wasn’t sure what had gotten into him that day to make him follow the burglar, but he was happy that he was able to prevent him from victimizing others.

9 Ashley Schuering

Fighting Back
Scott Schuering of Hudson, Florida, had his daughter, 15-year-old Ashley, watch a video of a young girl being lured away by a man, who police say later murdered her. The young girl had not put up a struggle, so Scott told Ashley that if anyone ever approached her in that manner, he wanted her to put up a fight. He had no idea that this advice would later save his daughter’s life.

In March 2004, Ashley was on her way to her cousin’s to babysit. A man suddenly appeared and grabbed Ashley by the arm, telling her that she had nice legs and that his boat was anchored at the beach. Ashley, who remembered what her father had taught her, began to scream and fight her attacker. She shoved him in the chest as hard as she could, causing the man, who appeared drunk, to stumble, giving Ashley enough time to run back to her bike and flee. Ashley arrived at her cousin’s place, hid behind a vehicle, and remained there until she saw the man drive away. She then went inside and had her cousin call for help.

Ashley was able to provide a description of the suspect’s vehicle. Her father located the truck at Hudson Beach Inn and contacted police. Deputies found the man inside the vehicle and arrested him. They also found rope and duct tape. Harold Carroll, age 56, who had previous convictions for aggravated assault and simple battery, was charged with attempted kidnapping and possession of marijuana.

8 Cameron Fontenot And Cameron Cashdollar

Vigilante teens tackle neighborhood criminal until police arrive

In August 2015, best friends 16-year-old Cameron Fontenot and 15-year-old Cameron Cashdollar, along with another friend, were having a sleepover at Fontenot’s home in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania. They teens were in the living room watching TV. Around 2:00 AM, they saw a man shine a light in the living room. Thinking someone was playing a game of “ding-dong ditch,” the boys decided to investigate. They saw a man in the backyard and decided to follow him.

Hiding behind trees, the teens followed the man for over 10 minutes, watching him open car doors and steal any money that was inside. Fontenot decided to confront the man, asking him what he was doing. The suspect offered the stolen money to the boys and said he was leaving. As the man tried to flee the scene, Fontenot pushed him. The two began a physical altercation, resulting in Fontenot putting the man in a choke hold and restraining him. Thinking that the robber might escape, Cashdollar took a photo while Fontenot held him to the ground. The man, later identified as 37-year-old Anthony Adams, was able to break free and get on top of Fontenot. Cashdollar jumped in to assist his friend. The two teens were able to restrain Adams until police arrived.

Adams was arrested and held on $25,000 bond. While many are hailing the boys as heroes, home security expert Robert Siciliano called their actions “risky and borderline stupid,” adding that people should not confront or fight a criminal unless their lives or the lives of their loved ones are at risk.

7 Kiya Ingham

Sussex Police praise “hero” Brighton teen who collared man on run from officers

On June 10, 2014, police constables Lynsey Burkinshaw and Johanna Clarke responded to a domestic call at a home in Brighton, East Sussex, England. They arrested 31-year-old Bradley Hughes for the incident. After being placed in the back of their patrol car, Hughes became violent, kicking and pushing the female officers.

Kiya Ingham, age 16, was walking by and saw Hughes push the officers and attempt to flee the scene. He knew he had to do something. Acting quickly, he dropped his bag and began to chase the suspect, tackling him to the ground. He was able to keep Hughes pinned until the officers arrived and arrested him.

Hughes pleaded guilty to two counts of assaulting an officer. Ingham was hailed a hero and recognized with an award from the Sussex police department. The high school student now wants to pursue a career in law enforcement.

6 Nate Stewart

Teen hits armed robber with tire iron, body slams him in order to protect family

On September 18, 2015, 17-year-old Nate Stewart accompanied his mother, Kim, to her place of employment, a Sunoco gas station, in Lakeland, Florida, to pick up her paycheck. While Nate was waiting in the car for his mother, a man approached the vehicle. Armed with a knife, the man demanded money from the teen. Nate was able to escape and run inside the gas station.

When he exited a short time later, the man was still in the parking lot and approached him again. Nate, who now feared for his life, opened the trunk of his mother’s car and took out a tire iron. Nate brandished the weapon at the man, 32-year-old Luther Dunn, who didn’t back down. Nate began to beat Dunn with the tire iron, and then body slammed his would-be attacker to the ground, leaving him a bloody mess.

Dunn, a seven-time convicted felon, was transported to hospital, where he was treated for his injuries. He was arrested, charged with attempted armed robbery, and held on $40,000 bond. Nate downplayed the incident to reporters, telling them that he only did what he had to do.

5 Malyk Bonnet

Teen Praised for Rescuing Woman

On August 1, 2015, 17-year-old Malyk Bonnet of Montreal, Quebec, was waiting for the bus when he noticed a man and a woman having a heated argument. Thinking that the yelling match was going to escalate to physical violence, Bonnet approached the couple. The man asked for money so they could take the bus to Laval, and Bonnet agreed. He noticed that the woman looked frightened. When the man left them alone, she begged for his help, telling him, “He don’t want to let me go. I want to go home but he don’t want to let me go.”

Bonnet knew he had to help her. He lied and told the couple that he was also taking the bus to Laval. Bonnet tried his best to befriend the man and keep him calm. When they arrived in Laval, Bonnet offered to take the couple to Tim Hortons for a meal. Once inside the restaurant, Bonnet borrowed a phone from a fellow patron and called 911. Police arrived a few moments later and arrested the suspect.

Unknown to Bonnet, the police had been looking for the couple. The 29-year-old woman had been kidnapped earlier that day by her ex-boyfriend. The suspect, whose name has not been released, had already been convicted of assaulting her and was under court order not to contact her. Police considered him dangerous.

The man was charged with kidnapping, assault, and forceable confinement. Bonnet told reporters that he was never in fear for his life. If it came to it, he could have “[kicked] his ass.” Police were so impressed by Bonnet that they took up a collection to reimburse him for the bus tickets and food. They also nominated him for a provincial award for bravery.

4 Kendra St. Clair

ABC News: Kendra St. Clair: Oklahoma Girl, 12, Shoots Intruder During Home Burglary

In October 2012, 12-year-old Kendra St. Clair was home alone at her family’s residence in Oklahoma when she heard banging at the door. Shortly thereafter, the door’s glass window was shattered, and an intruder entered the house. The young girl, who had no idea what to do, began to panic. She called her mom, who advised her to get the gun, hide in a closet, and call 911. While on the phone with dispatch, she was told that a deputy was on the way and to stay hidden in the closet. The dispatcher kept Kendra on the phone.

A few moments later, the frightening scene turned to pure terror as the intruder entered the bedroom that Kendra was hiding in. The handle on the closet door began to turn; the assailant had found the young girl’s hiding spot. Kendra raised her mother’s .40-caliber Glock handgun and fired a single shot, hitting 32-year-old Stacey Jones in the shoulder.

Jones fled the scene but was apprehended by police a few blocks away. After receiving treatment at hospital for the gunshot wound, he was arrested and charged with first-degree burglary. Kendra, who had never fired a gun before, told reporters that she holds her head up high knowing that now, nothing can hurt her.

3 Isaac Yow And Andrew Crane

Caught on Tape: Toddler Rescued by Siblings in Kidnapping Attempt

Sprague, Washington, is a sleepy little community about 60 kilometers (40 mi) away from Spokane, Washington. The community of fewer than 500 people is relatively crime-free. That changed in March 2015.

Michael Wright dropped his three children, Brenden (age 10), Delicia (age 8), and his 22-month-old son (whose name hasn’t been released), off at the babysitter’s house and went to work. That afternoon, the babysitter left the three children unattended at the local park.

Isaac Yow, age 16, and his friend, 15-year-old Andrew Crane, were also playing in the park that day. They heard screaming and decided to investigate. That’s when they saw a man running away with a little boy in his arms and a young girl screaming as she chased after them. That young girl was Delicia, who was trying desperately to save her little brother. The teens, who knew they had to act quickly, gave chase, with little Delicia trying to keep pace. The man dropped the little boy and continued running. The teens stopped to ensure that the child was safe and then resumed chasing after the suspect, but he got away.

Police were able to get a description of the suspect from several witnesses, but he still remains at large. While the community regards the teens as heroes, the boys disagree, saying that a kid’s life was in danger, so they didn’t care about their own; they were just doing the right thing.

2 Unnamed 13-Year-Old Boy

On November 10, 2015, a young boy from South Carolina was home alone when he heard someone attempting to break in. The teenager, whose name was withheld by police, grabbed his mother’s gun and went to the back door of the home. Seeing that someone was indeed trying to gain entry to the residence, the boy began to fire at the door. The suspect then fired back. The man fled the scene, getting into a getaway car being driven by his accomplice. The suspect, 31-year-old Lamar Brown Jr., had been hit by one of the bullets. His accomplice dropped him off at hospital, but Brown later died from his injuries.

Police were able to locate the second suspect, 28-year-old Ira J. Bennett. When asked about the bullet holes in his vehicle, Bennett told officers that his car had been shot at while he was driving on the interstate. He was arrested and charged with possession of a firearm during the commission of a violent crime and first-degree burglary. Bennett had a long criminal history, including convictions for assault with intent to kill, manufacturing of a controlled substance, and pointing a firearm at a person.

The boy’s mother told reporters that while she taught her son to call 911 in an emergency, she also told him to protect himself if he had to.

1 Sarah McKinley

Teen Mom Sarah McKinley Kills Intruder While on Phone With 911: Accomplice in Court

On New Year’s Eve 2012, 18-year-old Sarah McKinley was home alone with her three-month-old son. The Oklahoma resident had just lost her husband to cancer on Christmas Day, making the young girl a widow and a single mother. On the day of her husband’s funeral, a man named Justin Martin arrived at her residence claiming that he was a neighbor and wanted to introduce himself. Sarah did not allow him in her home.

Less than a week later, Martin arrived back at the residence, only this time, he had an accomplice and was armed with a 30-centimeter (12 in) hunting knife. The men tried to force their way into the home. Fearing for her life, Sarah grabbed her baby, gave him a bottle, and armed herself with a 12-gauge shotgun and a pistol. She then hid in the bedroom and called 911. While on the phone with dispatch, she asked if it was okay to shoot an intruder inside her home. The dispatcher told her to do what she had to do to protect her baby.

Once Martin made his way inside, he went after Sarah with the knife. Sarah shot and killed the 24-year-old. The accomplice, Dustin Stewart, fled the scene but later turned himself in to police. The police ruled that the shooting was justified. Sarah told reporters, “It’s not an easy decision to make but it was going to be either him or my son and it wasn’t going to be my son. There’s nothing more dangerous than a woman with a child.”

fact checked by Jamie Frater