The quick actions and calm demeanor of a 10-year-old girl led to a family’s safe exit from their home Monday when an intruder entered their Kentucky residence.
Because of Laken Blanford’s brave maneuvering and quick thinking to call her father, the girl was presented with a special honor by the Nelson County Sheriff’s Office.
Laken’s father, Lance Blanford, said in a detailed Facebook post he was at work Monday when he ignored two of his daughter’s video calls. He answered when she called a third time, and he could tell immediately she was scared.
She told her dad a man had entered their home, where she was with her 6-year-old brother and grandma.
“He was just walking normally, like nothing was going on, like he owned the house, like he had every right to be there,” Laken told WLKY.
Laken asked her dad if he was expecting anyone, and he said he was not but was second guessing himself, Blanford wrote in his post.
“It all changed when she began crying. I could tell she was scared to death,” Blanford said. “She proceeded to tell me that the guy was yelling and kicking at our dog. That’s when I knew something was wrong.”
Blanford said he immediately left work and rushed to his home. He said he asked Laken if she could sneak out of the closet she was hiding in and turn the camera toward the man.
The man, whom Blanford did not recognize, was drinking one of his Busch Light beers from his refrigerator. The dad told Laken she needed to get her brother and grandma out of the home and find a hiding spot behind their neighbor’s house.
Laken began moving throughout the house — then the call dropped.
“Talk about a sick feeling. I couldn’t get to my house fast enough,” Blanford said.
Blanford said he tried calling Laken back but did not have service. When he made it home, he did not spot his family members as he scanned the residence.
Grabbing his shotgun, Blanford checked each room for both his family and the intruder. Then he saw the man drinking a beer in his basement.
“Let me tell you, if you haven’t been in this situation, you have no idea the adrenaline and the scenarios that run through your mind,” Blanford said. “But, still not knowing where my kids were, I only had one choice.”
When Blanford told the man to get out of his house, the intruder slammed down the beer and charged at him. Blanford didn’t shoot at the man, but instead struck him with the barrel of the gun, he said.
As the man was on the ground unconscious, Blanford said he made sure he was unarmed, then went to check on his family. They were across the street on the phone with police, the father said.
Sheriff Ramon Pineiroa and deputies from the sheriff’s office later arrived at the home and took the man into custody.
Pineiroa presented Laken with a Sheriff’s Office Challenge coin and applauded the girl for her actions.
“What sticks out the most is what a very young girl did prior to our arrival,” the sheriff wrote in a Facebook post. “She remained calm, cool, and collected in very alarming circumstances.”
The father said Laken was emotional following the situation, but her demeanor changed when the sheriff approached her with the coin.
“She wasn’t happy, but she no longer was afraid. She was proud,” Blanford said.
The man, identified by WLKY as Stanley Ritter, was arrested on burglary charges.