by CRAIG CIVALE WFAA-TV News 8 DALLAS —
Two teenagers are in custody and a third is dead after an attempted break-in in southeast Dallas on Monday morning. Police said the suspects were betting on entering an empty house — not facing an armed homeowner.
Investigators said the three young people rang the front doorbell of Lee Cobler’s home in the 7300 block of Vallejo Drive. When no one answered, they went around the back and started trying to kick the door in. But Cobler, 51, was at home with an adult son. The son was on the phone with 911 when police said Cobler opened fire on the intruders, killing 14-year-old Luis Avila, a student at Hood Middle School. “He was able to make the right choice to protect his child,” said Shirley Starks, president of the local homeowners’ association.
“It was important, because he did not know that those — whoever was coming through that door — was not going to kill all of them.” Investigators are not saying that the teenagers were armed, but police were at Hood Middle School Monday afternoon interviewing students and offering counseling. Principal C.A. Williams sent out a letter to parents explaining that one of their students was killed in a burglary attempt.
“Our thoughts and prayers are obviously with the family and close friends of the student who is no longer with us,” she wrote. News 8 captured a video showing what’s believed to be one of the teenage suspects being arrested just a few blocks away from the shooting scene.
“It’s surprising like to see like kids — 13-year-old kids — like breaking in nowadays,” added Sarah Trevino, who was watching what happened. Residents in the Piedmont neighborhood have been on high alert after four burglaries in recent months, and Crime Watch officials said it was just a matter of time until something ended in a tragedy like this.
“This can happen to any child that is doing something like this,” Starks said. “Why weren’t the parents watching him to make sure that he wasn’t doing something like this, is my question.” Police have the two other suspects in custody, ages 13 and 14. They have been charged with attempted burglary. Police spokesman Sgt. Warren Mitchell said no charges have been filed against Cobler, but a grand jury will review the circumstances of the fatal shooting.
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