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Roommates use mixed martial arts, teamwork to subdue suspected burglar
Posted on Tue, Oct 12, 2010 at 6:57 am
by IDMA Editor

A man got more than he bargained for this weekend when he entered a downtown home of three sleeping boat captains, each armed with a useful repertoire of mixed martial arts maneuvers.

Charleston police charged Kenneth Jackson, 50, of Charleston with first-degree burglary after they say he broke into the East Side home at Woolfe and Nassau streets about 4:20 a.m. Saturday.

Kilian Hammerbeck was asleep in his downstairs bedroom when he heard someone unplugging his iPhone from the wall. Hammerbeck quickly realized the man standing less than a foot from his bed wasn't one of his roommates when the phone lit up the suspect's face.

Kilian Hammerbeck talks about he and fellow boat captains and roommates Ian Martens, left, and Travis Ross, center, subdued a man who broke into their Woolfe Street home early Saturday morning.

Hammerbeck, 35, was still lying down when he grabbed the suspect's wrist and arm and forced the guy to the floor while using his legs to scissor the man's torso. He held the man in an arm-bar for about a minute while waiting for his roommates' help.

"He's screaming and yelling and I'm calling out for my roommates," Hammerbeck said. "It sounded as if he had friends outside the door. I was worried two or three more guys would rush in to help their friend."

Travis Ross woke from a deep sleep and found his roommate wrestling with the unknown man. Like a wrestler tagging out, Hammerbeck turned the suspect over to Ross so he could check for accomplices. The 29-year-old Ross said he shoved the man into the kitchen and held him in a sleeper hold.

Hammerbeck said he grabbed a baseball bat and checked out the open side-door, but no one was there. The roommates said they rarely use the door and think they might have left it unlocked, allowing the suspect to sneak in.

Ian Martens, the third roommate, said he slept through the first two minutes of the ordeal before he heard his roommates yelling. He knew something was wrong when he heard a third, unknown voice.

Martens, Hammerbeck and Ross said the suspect first tried to fight his way out, then feigned a heart attack and finally begged for the roommates to let him go.

"He was screaming at the top of his lungs and begging us not to call the cops," Martens said. "In retrospect it was quite comical."

Even when the man sat on the floor in apparent submission -- with Ross and Martens standing on either side of him -- he hadn't given up. Martens, 27, said the man kept trying to inch his way to the door "in what can be best described as The Worm."

Hammerbeck found the phone the man tried to steal and called police. Officers were at the house within two minutes and found two $20 bills belonging to Hammerbeck inside the suspect's pocket.

"The officers were top-knotch and courteous, even to the burglar," Hammerbeck said. "People of Charleston can be certainly proud of their police force. I can say that I am."

Jackson has two previous convictions for second-degree burglary and multiple other convictions for auto break-ins and property crimes, according to a State Law Enforcement Division criminal history check.

The roommates said they have heard about crime in the three months they've been at the house, which sits about a block from Meeting Street, but Hammerbeck said the area is full of good people.

"We're pretty pleased that there are good people in this neighborhood," he said. "There's bad people everywhere."

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