By Brian Ojanpa
Free Press Staff Writer
ST PETER — As further details emerge from a Saturday night home burglary in Waseca, police are acknowledging the armed homeowner’s measured response in confronting the robber.
“He exercised tremendous restraint,” Waseca Police Capt. Kris Markeson said of Gerald Hinna’s decision to refrain from using what would appear to be legal, deadly force against the knife-wielding female intruder.
“I’m glad he didn’t,” said Hinna’s wife, Sarah. “Nobody got hurt, except for her, and that doesn’t bother me a bit.”
Judie Kotek, 42, of Medford has been charged with five burglary-related felonies following the incident at the Hinna home in northwest Waseca.
Sarah Hinna said she worked with Kotek at Birdseye Foods in Waseca but did not know her on a personal basis and had no dealings with her.
She said Kotek was recently fired, and it’s unclear why the Hinna home was singled out to be burglarized.
According to court documents, the couple returned home about 9:30 p.m. Saturday and from outside the residence heard their dogs barking.
Upon entering the home, Gerald Hinna went upstairs and noticed a bedroom door partially closed and one of the dogs barking at it.
He attempted to open the door, but sensed that someone was standing behind it and blocking it.
He called for his wife to retrieve his shotgun from another room. After he received the gun, the person inside the room pulled the door open.
The intruder of indiscernible gender at that moment was wearing a hooded sweatshirt, had a knife in hand, and attempted to run past Gerald Hinna, who struck the person in the stomach and top of the head with the gun butt.
He then rushed the intruder outside the house. The person, by now revealing herself to be female, then took off running with Hinna giving chase and calling out to a neighbor, off-duty Waseca police officer Tim Schroeder who was outside his residence.
Shroeder gave chase on foot and detained the suspect about a block away. Other officers and a Waseca County deputy quickly arrived on the scene.
“Kudos to our police department. They were amazing,” Sarah Hinna said Tuesday. Attempts to contact her husband for comment were unsuccessful.
Officers found jewelry and antique coins on the suspect. Outside the Hinna residence officers found a a pried-open window and bag of items taken from the house.
Inside the garage, a safe belonging to the Hinnas bore cut and scratch marks from tools apparently used to try to force the safe open.