Knife-wielding intruder terrorizes Quincy family

Dan McDonald
Managing Editor
Updated 10/10/2012
A Quincy family experienced a horrifying ordeal last week.

A knife-wielding intruder broke into the Brandes family’s Jackson Street home Wednesday, Oct. 3, and said he was looking for the children.

The intruder, David John Crawford, 32, of Marysville, was eventually shot with a Taser and arrested by Plumas County sheriff’s deputies.

But not before putting Dan Brandes and his family through a terrifying ordeal, according to Brandes.

Crawford broke the glass on the front door of the house and told Brandes, “Where are your kids? Where are they? Go get them.”

Brandes said the intruder was holding a large knife in his bloody right hand. Crawford had apparently cut his hand while breaking through the glass door.

Brandes said his wife and two young sons were asleep upstairs. However, his teenage daughter eventually came downstairs and was face-to-face with Crawford at one point. Brandes said his daughter quickly closed a door in the intruder’s face.

Crawford pursued Brandes, who was trying to lure the intruder outside the home and away from his family.

Brandes said he yelled to his family to call the police. The first 911 call came from a neighbor at 11:38 p.m.

Minutes later, two California Highway Patrol officers followed by two sheriff’s deputies arrived on the scene.

After Crawford eventually climbed to the top of a neighbor’s stairway and hurled a bookcase at the officers, they Tased him.

“I just want to let the sheriff and CHP know how much we appreciate their quick response,” Brandes said the day after the break-in. “I mean, here is this Rambo-looking guy coming after me with a huge knife, covered in blood, asking about my kids. I can’t even begin to tell you the amount of gratitude I feel for the sheriff and the CHP right now.”

Crime spree

Sheriff Greg Hagwood said an officer at the scene told him that Crawford was delusional. 

Crawford’s charges didn’t include any drug offenses.

The intruder was taken to the Plumas County Jail where is being held on $100,000 bail.

Crawford’s felony charges included vehicle theft, first-degree burglary, assault with a deadly weapon, resisting an executive officer by force or fear and battery against a peace officer.

According to Hagwood and District Attorney David Hollister, Crawford’s motives were unknown, but appeared to be random. He wasn’t specifically targeting the Brandes family.

Crawford reportedly yelled at a neighbor moments before breaking into the Brandes home.

The sheriff said Crawford’s crime spree likely began earlier that evening. Hagwood said Crawford was believed to have been involved in a burglary of a Pacific Gas and Electric Co. facility in the Feather River Canyon. Crawford was driving a new white pickup truck that was believed to have been stolen during the burglary.

Assistant Sheriff Dean Canalia said there may be more charges against Crawford “as soon as we finish back-tracking where he came from.”

The break-in
Dan Brandes said he was on the ground floor of his two-story home working on his computer when he heard a crash.

He said he wasn’t startled by the noise. 

“I thought it was our cat,” Brandes said. “I thought that maybe the cat knocked over a lamp or something.”

Brandes still suspected the cat when he heard an interior door in the home slowly open.

But then he saw a man he didn’t know standing in the doorway.

“He was standing there with his right hand behind his back,” Brandes said. “I asked who he was, and that is when he started asking, ‘Where are your kids?’”

Brandes said he told the intruder to “get out of here!”

That’s when Crawford revealed his bloody hand holding a large “Rambo-type” knife, according to Brandes.

Brandes said that as soon as he saw the weapon, he yelled “Get the police!” to anyone who could hear him.

“That’s when he started slowly coming at me,” Brandes said. “I started to back up. I was worried for my life.”

Brandes said he kept backing up and went out the back door of his home. He said he hoped the intruder would continue to follow him.

He did.

The intruder never lunged toward Brandes. He maintained a slow and deliberate pace. Brandes said he continued hollering for help, hoping one of his neighbors would hear him.

As soon as Crawford reached the back porch, Brandes said his daughter came downstairs. He said she was “just a couple feet” from Crawford when she saw him. She immediately closed the back door between herself and the intruder.

Brandes continued his effort to lure Crawford away from his home. He said he walked across the street to a corner.

“He continued after me,” Brandes said. “But he never raced after me."

“Then I see him get into a nice brand-new white pickup. My intention was to keep an eye on him. And then he started coming at me in his truck.”

Brandes said he “took off” and stood behind a van that was parked kitty-corner from his home.

“He gets out of his truck and starts coming after me again,” Brandes said. “It was very dark.”

Brandes said he again yelled for help. He said he ran around a house and was eventually behind Crawford. He could see Crawford was still looking for him.

At that point, Brandes went back toward his home.

About that time, he said the first CHP car arrived. He said he gave the officer a brief description of Crawford and then the officer “immediately went after him.”

Other officers soon arrived. In all, there were two CHP officers (Kip Hymas and Blair Parrott) and two sheriff’s officers (Sgt. Matt Beatley and Deputy Jake Vickery).

The officers chased Crawford up the stairway of a second-floor apartment.

Crawford attempted to fight the officers and eventually hurled a bookcase down the stairs at them.

That is when he was shot with a Taser.

Brandes said he went over to shake Deputy Vickery’s hand after Crawford was captured.

“But he didn’t want to shake my hand,” Brandes said. “Because his hand was all bloody.”

Sheriff’s comment
Hagwood said it was purely luck that his officers were in the area when the call came in. He said that a half-hour earlier the officers were in Portola.

Hagwood, who lives just over a block away from the Brandeses, said he was deeply troubled that they had to live through an experience like this.

“To say that this is disturbing is an understatement,” Hagwood said. “It’s a family’s worst nightmare. A total stranger breaks into their house late at night. Nothing compares.”

The invasion of the Brandes home came just a month after a home invasion on Camp Layman Road near Cromberg. There was also a burglary at a Quincy business last week.

The sheriff has stated on many occasions that he wants Plumas County to be a place where people feel safe enough to not lock their doors.

When asked if he still feels it’s safe to leave doors unlocked, the sheriff took a long pause.

“I still want it to be that way,” Hagwood said before pausing again. “But it is difficult with what we have had occur in such a short time. Yes, I still want it to be that way. But should it be? Right now? I don’t know."

“And the fact that a child has had this experience in this county … and will be carrying this with her the rest of her life … It’s absolutely outrages me.”

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