Local pastor fights off thief

Local News

A local pastor took matters into his own hands when he says he encountered a thief in the entryway of his home on August 7.

Caleb Schaller, a pastor at Messiah Lutheran Church, says he was home with his two kids and one of their friends when the incident took place.

Schaller says he heard a voice he did not recognize and found a stranger inside his doorway.

“He was pretty sweaty and he was just standing there. He had just opened the door by himself and he yelled at me, ‘gimme the keys’,” Schaller says.

Then Schaller says he noticed the suspect, identified by police as 40-year-old Dirk Ballard, reaching for something.

“It was like a machete,” Schaller says. “It was in a sheath like on a belt Indiana jones style around his shoulder and it was like he was going to take it out.”

He says he made the split second decision to fight the suspect in order to protect his family inside the house.

“I thought he can’t get that out because if he gets that out he’s got a weapon I don’t have and he needs to leave this house because my daughters are here and he is not going to hurt anyone,” Schaller says.

The suspect then fled the scene after Schaller was able to get the weapon away from him.

“My instinct was he can’t get away I need to keep an eye on him so he can get arrested and detained so he can’t go into someone else’s house,” Schaller says.

Schaller says he believes the suspect wanted to steal his car and after the incident noticed the doors on his cars had been opened and some belongings inside the cars had been sifted through.

Eau Claire Police confirmed Schaller’s account of the incident.

“It does not sound like that machete was ever pointed at the victim or anyone else but it was present during the altercation,” says Officer Bridget Coit of the Eau Claire Police Department.

While Coit says she usually recommends that personal property is less important than safety, the pastor did a good job by responding with his instincts and ended the situation with a positive result. She says he also did the right thing by calling 911 immediately.

Coit says Schaller and other witnesses were helpful in identifying and locating the suspect.

Ballard was later located in Fall Creek after crashing a car that had been stolen a block away from Schaller’s residence on Harrison Street.

Ballard is charged with 2nd degree reckless endangerment, attempted armed robbery, burglary, disorderly conduct and bail jumping, both felony and misdemeanor.

Police have not yet determined whether drugs or alcohol played a role in the incident.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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