BATTLE CREEK, Mich. — Tuesday night was like any other night at the Ward household. Mom Sara Ward told her boys Reese and Skyler that she loved them and then headed to bed. Reese stayed up to watch Netflix. Skyler took a shower. Then their dog Kona started barking at the door. Someone was on the other side.
Reese, 11, grabbed his samurai sword and put it near the door, against the wall.
“I went to open the door to say ‘Hello, who are you and what do you want?’” said Reese sitting with his family on their front porch during an interview. “He started trying to push through.”
Reese said the man wore a hoodie with a red bandana wrapped around his face. Sara, who heard Kona barking, jumped out of bed and went to see what was going on. As she approached the door, the man kicked it in and broke the lock.
“Your first instinct is to fight back and protect yourself, protect your family,” said Sara. “So I started pushing back against the door and screaming, 'Get out, get out.'”
Drywall and plaster from the kick got on Reese’s face forcing him to cover his eyes, he said. Nonetheless, he helped his mother, both of them using their body weight against the door to keep the intruder out. The man managed to get an arm inside and pepper sprayed them both. However Sara said it didn’t work. It was an old can. Then Skyler, 14, stepped out of the shower to see about the commotion.
“So I ran, grabbed the sword and ran at the guy as fast as I could with full intention of doing as much damage to him as possible,” said Skyler. “When I swung through the door, he got scared.”
Within seconds, the man ran away. Reese called the police and told them what happened. They didn’t get a good look at the man but they believe he might’ve been a white male with a wide-bridged nose and no taller than 6 feet.
“We responded and the K-9 attempted a track in the area with negative results,” said Lt. Matthew Robinson with the Battle Creek Police Department. “At this point we’re looking for additional information for suspects.”
The next day, Sara bought a gun. She said her brother took her to a local gun shop where they helped her find a gun that she felt comfortable with. She even practiced shooting with it at their range before bringing it home.
“Honestly that’s the only reason I felt safe coming back to this home is because I knew that if it happened again I would be able to protect my children,” said Sara. “I think that that really contributed to them feeling safe enough to come back home too.”
Since then Kona’s been timid, she said. She thinks he may even suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. However she’s grateful for him and his barking and proud of her boys and their heroism.
“It’s [my] worst nightmare,” said Sara. “It’s the thing that you’re afraid of the most, especially as a single mother is that somebody could try to hurt you or hurt your children and what are you going to do to protect yourself if a grown man wants to hurt you.”
Reflecting on the incident, Sara believes it may be drug-related. Before moving into the place year ago, the landlord told her that it once was a known drug house. But since they've been there, it’s been quiet. Sara, a registered nurse, tells her boys all the time about the dangers of doing drugs and that it makes people do bad things, she said.
“You may think that a monster is something with four arms," said Reese holding the samurai sword. "But it can just be someone trying to get into your house and hurt you."