Ian Gold had just put his three-year-old daughter down for a nap when he smelled cigarette smoke. Odd, since nobody in his family smokes. Then he saw a guy racing down the stairs from the third floor of their home on Howes Street in Dorchester.
That was the start of a frightening chase that ended only when the man smashed in the window of a limo outside Blessed Mother Teresa Church at Columbia Road and Dorchester Avenue, punched and pushed the driver out. Even though Gold was on the phone with a dispatcher as he chased the guy through his neighborhood, he says police didn't arrive until after the man drove away in the limo, later found abandoned in South Boston.
In an e-mail interview, Gold said he and his family were out when his wife dropped him and their younger daughter, 3, off so she could take their older daughter, 8, to an art class, around 1:30 p.m. on Saturday.
"I came in with her on my shoulder (she was asleep), put her in our bed on the second floor. I smelled cigarettes, which was strange. He must've been on the second floor in the bedroom when I came in, and gone upstairs. He then scampered down the stairs - I watched him go down from the bedroom. He appeared to be in his mid to late 40s, white, haggard, squat build with a paunch. Wore baggy clothes. Surprising that he was so spry, really.
"I chased him and confronted him on the stairs. He had the hammer in his hand and said 'keep back, keep back.'"
Gold says he did just that and watched the man run out the back door of the house and jump over a back yard fence - with two duffel bags full of stuff he'd taken. At the very same time, he says, his mother-in-law, who lives with them, came in. With somebody to watch after his daughter, he didn't think twice: He ran out of the house after the guy:
"I called 911 and then stayed on the phone with them for about 5 blocks and (according to my phone log) 7 minutes, describing to the dispatcher what was happening. He tried to carjack three other cars. I read out the license plate of the first car, as I thought it was an accomplice of his. He then tried to open the door of a Hummer. Both of these cars were on a street called Edison Green, waiting to turn on to Dorchester Avenue. He then went at a woman who was at the trunk of her car. I believe he thought he could grab her keys out of her hand, and that he did touch her, but I was too close at this point and she ran away and so did he."
"I narrated the whole sequence to the dispatcher, calling out street names, and was on the phone with them in front of the limo at Mother Teresa's while he attempted to wrest the keys from the driver. This was a protracted struggle, during which I pleaded with the police to get there, told them where we were, and during which a police wagon and police car passed by on Columbia Road, but then didn't stop and turned off down Dorchester Avenue. If they had made a U Turn, they would have been able to prevent or stop the crime."
Today, Gold is still shaken, sad that the guy got away with his wife's engagement ring - it had been his grandmother's - and upset police didn't arrive until it was too late, but grateful his daughter stayed asleep through the whole thing. The carjacking housebreaker remains at large.