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Man fights off home intruder

Last modified: 1/10/2011 12:00:00 AM
A Concord man said yesterday that he used a screwdriver and a mug of coffee to fend off a knife-wielding attacker Saturday afternoon at his apartment on Fayette Street.

The man agreed only to give his first name, Ernie, saying he wanted to keep the news from his elderly parents.

The police arrested 24-year-old Devin Tappan of Loudon later Saturday afternoon and charged him with attempted robbery, a felony, and simple assault, a misdemeanor. They would not identify the victim.

"I'm a stubborn German," said Ernie, sporting a red bruise under his right eye from a punch he says Tappan threw. "The guy who came through the door found that out."

Ernie, a wiry construction worker, was born in Dusseldorf, Germany, before moving to the United States at age 5. He's been living in New Hampshire for nearly 30 years.

He lives alone in a second-story apartment and said he and two friends, a man and his girlfriend, were watching television early Saturday afternoon when the back doorknob began to jiggle.

"My friend was due to stop up," Ernie said. "He told me he'd call me prior. I figured he forgot to call. There was a knock and I said come in. The next thing I know there's this 6-foot-2-inch guy standing in the doorway with a mask over his face."

Ernie says the man demanded money. When Ernie refused, the two began fighting, with Ernie reaching for a nearby screwdriver and mug of coffee, which he says he used to shield himself from the knife.

"I didn't know there was coffee in it," Ernie said. "He ended up with coffee all over him."

Ernie said he received a punch and a slight cut on his finger. After receiving a struggle from Ernie but no money, the robber ran out the back door and jumped into a waiting car, Ernie said. Ernie's friends, who by this time were standing out front calling the police, saw the license plate number and told the dispatcher, Ernie said.

The police report made no mention of any accomplices, and Sgt. Clifford Kahrs of the Concord Police Department would neither confirm nor deny yesterday if Tappan allegedly acted alone.

"I really don't have anything else I can release at the moment," Kahrs said.

But Ernie said the robber was not driving the getaway car, something he learned secondhand.

"I just caught the car taking off," Ernie said. "I never saw who was in the car. My friend said there was a guy and a girl in the car besides the one who came in the house. The woman was driving."

The police located the vehicle, a red sedan, later that afternoon. Through further investigation, Tappan was arrested in a nearby apartment without incident, the police said, adding that a knife and other evidence were recovered.

Ernie didn't recognize the suspect's name once it was released by the police, and he said he never got a good look at the robber because a bandanna covered most of his face.

"They told me they had arrested him, and I didn't have to worry about him coming back," Ernie said. "They seemed to think the guy was going to come back. I said I don't think so. He ran out of here scared for his life."

Tappan refused to see a bail commissioner and is being held at the Merrimack County jail. He will be arraigned this morning at Concord District Court.

The police ask anyone with information on the case to call them at 225-8600 or the Concord Regional Crimeline at 226-3100.

Information can also be submitted to concordregionalcrimeline.com. Crimeline awards cash to anyone whose tips lead to an arrest and indictment. All information is kept confidential.

(Ray Duckler can be reached at 369-3304 or rduckler@cmonitor.com.)


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