Texas City, Texas

From Galveston County’s The Daily News of September 25, 2007

‘Jarhead’ confronts burglary suspect

An armed and nosy neighbor, an off-duty police officer and an even nosier dog led to the arrest late Sunday of two brothers accused of breaking into an occupied home.

Leslie Nolan Jr., a former U.S. Marine, was inside his 39th Avenue North home about 11:30 p.m., when his wife, Janice, saw a stranger prowling around a neighbor’s house.

Nolan grabbed his pistol, ran across the street and found the tenant’s backyard gate 6 inches ajar.

“I rounded the corner and saw a young man trying to pull the window out,” Nolan said. “It was locked so he busted it out with his hand. He reached in and tried to unlock it. He had his back to me, and that’s when I pulled my pistol and told him to ‘freeze!’ ”

The man bolted toward the open gate, but the tenant kept a piece of plywood on the ground to prevent her dog from escaping.

Nolan said he caught the intruder when he tripped over the plywood and fell to the ground. He said he fought the man with one arm, while keeping his pistol clear from the melee.

“I had him in a headlock and pulled him to the ground,” Nolan said. “He dug his fingernail into me. I took the gun and whopped him on the top of his head … He went a little limp.”

Nolan gave the intruder one final warning.

“The next one,I explained, would blow his head off,” Nolan said. “I didn’t want to shoot him, but I turned him over on his back, and let him see it.”

Cpl. David Viel of Texas City police identified the man in Nolan’s grip as Irwin Travis Park, 37. Viel said a second suspect fled.

Nolan said he interrogated the man, who then gave him his address.

Janice, who was herself armed, called police to report the incident, and that a second man had hopped a fence and fled through a field.

“What shocked me was I couldn’t believe what I was seeing,” she said. “They called back and kept me on the phone until police arrived. The police showed up really fast.”

Officer J.P. White was on his way to work when he heard dispatchers send police to the burglary call, Viel said.

“Officer White arrives at the scene first and sees the neighbor sitting on top of the bad guy,” Viel said. “A second one got away and he told the officer which way he ran.”

Viel said police found a ball cap, and a tracking dog used that to trace the scent.

Leslie Nolan said police pushed his park bench to a chain-link fence and the dog leapt over. He even lent police his ladder so they could climb over the 6-foot fence safely.

The dog immediately went to the place where Nolan said one of the men hopped the fence. The dog followed the scent through a field and straight to the front yard of 2525 36th Ave., Viel said.

Police returned to get Nolan’s ladder again, Nolan said.

“The front door was open,” Viel said. The officer entered and arrested the second suspect, Jimmy Earl Park, 35, Irwin’s brother.

The Park brothers remained jailed Monday on single-count charges of burglary of a habitation. Their bonds were set at $15,000 each, Viel said.

Nolan said police told him there have been a lot of burglaries reported in the neighborhood.

“I’m not going to hide behind the screen and sit idly by,” Nolan said. “I’m a former Marine and electrician by trade. This jarhead … is going to stop it.”

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