She was watching a sitcom Wednesday afternoon when a real-life police drama spilled into her living room.
Coriana Kretschmer, 21, was watching “Grounded for Life” on the couch at her mother’s Tacoma home when the front door burst open. Her mom was in the hospital and her 14-year-old brother — home sick with the cold — was resting.
She thought her dad or sister may have come home early and angry, but when she turned around she saw a man wearing broken handcuffs and a gray Pierce County Jail uniform.
Kretschmer leapt into action, a lifetime of training driving her instincts even though she didn’t realize it at the time.
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“I’m a dog trainer and I spent 13 years in 4-H and I learned that when you are teaching a dog you have to back them down,” Kretschmer said. “I didn’t even think about it until I told my aunt and she said, ‘So, you did what you do with your dogs.’ ”
The 33-year-old man had escaped from a Lakewood police transport vehicle moments earlier near the intersection of Sprague Avenue and 19th Street. He was on his way back to Pierce County Jail after a court appearance.
Lakewood and Tacoma police were chasing him and he was looking for a place to hide. He chose the wrong house.
“’He was saying, ‘Help me, help me, save me,’ ” Kretschmer said.
Instead, Kretschmer asserted her dominance by standing up, moving toward the intruder and screaming for him to get out.
Timothy, her younger brother, grabbed a baseball bat and came to her side. Two of the family’s three dogs joined in. Sugar, a 12-year-old poodle, and Honey, an 11-year-old labradoodle, barked angrily, but their Chihuahua, Otis Spunkmeyer, quickly found a place to hide.
The intruder didn’t move until Kretschmer came face to face with him and started pushing him backward with her body. Once she pushed him outside, she closed the door and the intruder took off.
She called 911.
“The whole thing probably lasted a minute,” said Kretschmer, who works as the full-time caregiver for her mom, Karma.
Timothy watched the intruder through the window as they waited for police to arrive. Five minutes later, he pointed them to a neighbor’s house. A police dog sniffed around the Kretschmers’ front door then followed the scent to a camper on the neighbor’s property.
Moments later, the man was back in custody and on his way to jail.
Kretschmer said it wasn’t until that evening when she finally stopped shaking. She contacted her boyfriend, a Marine serving in South Korea.
“He said, ‘Honey, that could have been so much worse,’ ” she said.
He was impressed by the way she responded under pressure.
“I think it’s what most people would do,” Kretschmer said. “Somebody told me that now I know that when it comes to fight or flight, I would definitely fight.
“I just know everybody is OK and I made my Marine proud. So I’m happy.”