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Victim slams door in face of armed burglar in Laurel County

By: Tim Johnston Email
By: Tim Johnston Email

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. (WKYT) - It was a simple start to the day for John Duke who said he was drinking tea when he heard a knock on his door. Duke, a former law enforcement officer from Texas, approached cautiously and saw a man on his porch.

"I said, 'Can I help you?' He said, 'Yeah, my granddaughter ran away on the road out here, last night. I've been walking up and down the road,'" recalled Duke, saying the two had a brief conversation before the man dressed in a camo jacket turned to leave.

Then he spun back around and put a gun barrel in Duke's face.

"All I could think of was my wife downstairs, who was still asleep, and my home. In that millisecond those thoughts went through my mind. All I could do was put all my weight on that door and slammed it and latched it," said Duke, adding, "this is the first time that I knew I was out-gunned, and I couldn't win a gunfight with a finger."

Laurel County deputies say Duke was the only victim to have a gun pulled on him, but he was not the only house that Jeffery Sasser targeted. Investigators say Sasser tried to break into four homes, in all, but he didn't steal anything or hurt anyone. Strangely enough, deputies say all he did was eat a sandwich and have a soda at one home.

Still, investigators weren't taking their chances with the armed, and likely dangerous, man.

"We really felt like he was dangerous and something bad would happen later on tonight," explained Deputy Gilbert Acciardo of the Laurel County Sheriff's Office.

Worried about losing daylight, and the chance that Sasser might escalate the severity of his crimes, deputies flooded the area where the homes were broken into, keeping an eye out for their suspect. Tuesday afternoon, he was spotted by a deputy and a constable on patrol. Sasser ran off only to be caught in the woods a short distance later.

He was found with a number of items that worried Deputy Acciardo.

"The .22 pistol, long barrel, he had it concealed in a holster on his back, under his coat. He had a mask, some type of Halloween mask, he had duct tape, he had rope, he had knives it looked like he was going to war," said the deputy.

Acciardo went on to say that a person doesn't carry these types of items unless he intends to use them.

Investigators believe Sasser was also involved in a violent robbery just two months ago in Laurel County. In that case a man was robbed and severely beaten. The Kentucky State Police also questioned the 48-year-old suspect because they, too, believe he might be responsible for other crimes around the area.

"I'm glad he did come here first, if it had to happen," said Duke, adding that he screamed the loudest and the fastest and with his reaction he was able to get deputies on the suspect's trail quickly.


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