Danté Gardin told his mother he heard the burglars hit the window five times before it shattered Saturday morning. Upstairs, Danté, 14, reached under his bed and grabbed a pocketknife that he would soon need.
He locked the door of his room, backed into his closet and listened as the burglars moved around the house on Cindy Creek Lane near Beatties Ford Road and Interstate 85.
It was just after 8 a.m., and Danielle Gardin was out running errands with Danté's little brother. No car was in the driveway, which might have given the thieves the impression that the house, which also was targeted for a burglary seven months ago, was empty.
Instead, Danté was upstairs. His mother later said that he told her and the police he could hear them shimmying through the back window over the sink into the kitchen.
According to Danté, he listened for about 10 minutes. They disassembled his mother's computer and rooted through his brother's toys. Then they rattled his doorknob. When it wouldn't give, one burglar kicked the door in as Danté watched from the partially closed closet.
Danté, described by his mother as taller than 6 feet tall and solidly built, emerged from the closet with the knife and surprised the thief. The two exchanged heated words, and Danté took a swipe with the knife, cutting the man's stomach. As the thief jumped back, he dropped a gun. Danté picked it up, his mother said, and the would-be thieves took off with nothing stolen.
Danté called the police, who spotted the green van the thieves fled in. The burglars jumped from the van, evaded the encircling police and hadn't been caught by late Saturday.
Meanwhile, Danté was at home, on the phone with his mother.
“He was frantic, and at first I couldn't understand him,” Danielle Gardin said. “He said, ‘Mama, you need to come home. You got to come home right now.'”
The Gardins moved into the house in January, and less than a month later, neighbors told them that three men tried to break through the back door. The neighbors called the police, and the would-be thieves ran as officers drew near.
Danielle Gardin says she was scared then. But the family stayed, she said, because she doesn't want anyone to run her away from her home.