After two dangerous tours in Afghanistan, Marine Cpl. Alex Pohle confronted a new threat on the home front: a burglar in his parents’ Spokane Valley home.
Home for the holidays, the 22-year-old Pohle returned to their house after running errands and found the front door open “as plain as a summer’s day.” The family dog sat in the front yard along the 12400 block of East Desmet Road.
Without hesitation Pohle rushed inside after telling his wife to stay in the car. He stormed into the home, burst into his parents bedroom and took suspected burglar Christopher Schwanke, 43, to the floor.
After a short struggle, Pohle had him in a choke hold and Schwanke pleaded for his freedom. “Let me go, let me go,” Pohle’s mom heard Schwanke begging before he stopped moving.
Pohle credited his military training for the take down move and pointed out the blood on his pants and shirt that didn’t belong to him.
Alex and his parents, Kerrie and Jim, held the burglar down until Spokane Valley deputies arrived within minutes - around 10:45 a.m.
A deputy raced through the front door with a 12-gauge shotgun in hand, Pohle said, and took Schwanke into custody.
“They were like ‘Who put the thumpin’ on him?’” Pohle said. “I did.”
Pohle, a 2008 University High School graduate, said his nerves were not shaken, but he quickly smoked a cigarette until his grandparents showed up. “Grandpa says they picked on the wrong Marine,” said Pohle’s grandmother, Audrey Knottel.“He’s a strong kid.”
Kerrie Pohle, Alex’s mother, said: “He doesn’t know his own strength.”
That strength came in handy during his time in Afghanistan when a roadside bomb hit his convoy in the Helmand Province.
Pohle recalls the ringing in his ears. The blast disabled his vehicle. Nobody died.
Now stationed at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, Pohle has four more years to go and hopes to become a drill sergeant for future Marines. His father says he has the voice for it.
Ultimately, Pohle hopes for a career in the Washington State Patrol as a trooper.
As for the ransacked Pohle home, Jim Pohle, Alex’s father, is simply glad they had someone there to take care of it. The burglar tried to get away with Jim Pohle’s hunting gear and his wife’s jewelry.
Deputies described the burglar as a repeat offender with a 27-year criminal record.
Medics took Schwanke to a local hospital for his injuries. He was then booked into Spokane County Jail for residential burglary.