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Marine tackles burglary suspect in Valley home

U.S. Marine Cpl. Alex Pohle is hugged by his grandmother, Audrey Knuttel, at his parents’ home Friday morning in Spokane Valley after he found a suspected burglar stealing valuables in the house and detained him until deputies arrived. (Dan Pelle)
U.S. Marine Cpl. Alex Pohle is hugged by his grandmother, Audrey Knuttel, at his parents’ home Friday morning in Spokane Valley after he found a suspected burglar stealing valuables in the house and detained him until deputies arrived. (Dan Pelle)

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 chokehold and Schwanke pleaded for his freedom. “Let me go, let me go,” Pohle’s mom heard Schwanke begging before he lost consciousness.

Pohle credited his military training for the takedown 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 officers arrived within minutes – around 10:45 a.m.

An officer 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 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 Knuttel. “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 Helmand Province.

Pohle recalls the ringing in his ears. The blast disabled his vehicle. Nobody died.

Now stationed at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, 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.

Deputies described the burglar as a repeat offender with a 27-year criminal record.

Medics took Schwanke to a hospital for his injuries. He was then booked into Spokane County Jail for residential burglary.  



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