Gun Chase On South Hill
Before the days of dialing 911 and the Pierce County sheriffs being permanently stationed on South Hill, it sometimes became necessary for local residents to “help-out” in the law enforcement effort.
Such was the case back in 1971 for SHHS member Don Glaser’s brother Kenneth.
Burglaries were quite frequent on the hill in the 60s and 70s with the growing number of homes being built in the rural surroundings of the South Hill.
Don’s brother had been burglarized three times and the fourth time would prove to be the last straw for his household.
Mr. and Mrs. Glaser just returned to their home from shopping to find a burglary in process. The burglars, who were armed with a shotgun, confronted them. The 25 year-old man, accompanied by his 18 year-old girlfriend, ordered Kenneth and his wife on the floor and tied their hands behind their backs. Kenneth lay on the floor fuming; he was not going to let this pair get away. After the burglars sped off in a panel truck, Kenneth cut himself loose, headed for his hidden, loaded, M1 carbine. Then he jumped into his late model Thunderbird and gave chase. In his zeal to keep on the tail of the fleeing pair, he left his wife, Jean, still bound on the floor. The phone began ringing, Mrs. Glaser managed to knock the receiver free and shout that they were being robbed. The caller a friend of the Glaser’s, contacted the sheriffs’ office. Now Glaser was in a hot chase behind the fleeing burglars, with the sheriff deputies speeding to the Glaser home, not quite sure what to expect.
It didn’t take Glaser long to spot the getaway vehicle. He quickly stopped at a small grocery store and told the clerk to call the police and continued his chase, now with a volunteer from the store accompanying him. At 146th St. and 22nd Av. E he took aim and shot out both tires from the fleeing old panel truck. The panel stopped and the driver got out, Glaser thought this would end it. No such luck, the suspect jumped back into the truck and continued driving to 208th where he commandeered a late model sedan from a Spanaway man, taking the car’s owner hostage. The burglar shouted to Glaser not to follow, Glaser took aim and shot out both rear tires from the fleeing sedan. The burglar continued on about a mile until one tire left the wheel entirely.
Once again the fleeing suspects tried to commandeer yet another car. However, the driver of this vehicle wasn’t the passive type, even with a gun pointed at her. Mrs Ida Loete refused to be his second hostage and would not get into the car. The brave lady called his bluff. After being told to go along or be killed she said, “Go-ahead kill me.” She refused to go. Fortunately, for Mrs. Loete the burglar had second thoughts and fled with her car and hostage number one. A wild chase followed with the suspect crashing Mrs. Loete’s car into a power pole at 11th Avenue and 160th Street. Now the burglars commandeered the third vehicle of their getaway effort, a 1968 Ford station wagon along with another hostage, 18yr-old Peter Neal, who unfortunately picked the wrong day to visit his brother James Wright of 1019 S. 160th.
Time was running out for the fleeing couple. The confused sheriffs were getting calls regarding each incident in the chase from different witnesses, some claiming a shootout between the burglars and Glaser. However, the suspects never fired back at Glaser during the chase.
Deputy Fred Reinicke spotted a person matching the description of the gunman on the grounds of the Our Lady Queen of Heaven Catholic Church on dead-end South 146th Street. Five patrol cars converged on the scene where the suspect was in the process of stealing his fourth getaway vehicle. The burglar was installing the wrecked Ford’s battery into Rev. William Greier’s Valliant. The Valliant’s dead battery saved the day, as deputies moved in and made the arrest. The female burglar was found hiding under the bed in the parish home.
In an article covering this event appearing in the Tuesday, March 7, 1971 Tacoma News Tribune, Kenneth Glaser was praised by the Sheriffs’ Department for his restraint. An excellent marksman, Glaser only shot at the tires. Also, by informing the Sheriffs’ Department during his chase, it was possible for the arrest to be made.