The Deschutes County District Attorney’s Office removed the charge of burglary in connection with a break-in that occurred in Sisters in the early hours of Monday, September 9.

Deputies arrested Ryan Paul Huber, 43, of Sisters, after he allegedly kicked in the back door of a home on West Carson Avenue in the Hayden Homes subdivision off McKinney Butte Road in Sisters. The armed homeowner detained Huber until law enforcement arrived. No one was injured in the incident.

District Attorney John Hummel stated: “Huber was arrested for burglary and my office charged him with criminal trespass. It’s not unusual for DAs to modify charges when cases come to our office. We sometimes enhance the charges and sometimes reduce them. In this case we determined that due to the fact the suspect was suffering from mental-health delusions when he entered the home we had insufficient evidence that he entered the home to commit a crime. Therefore, we charged trespass instead of burglary (to prove the crime of burglary you have to prove a person trespassed in a home with the intent to commit a crime within the home).”

The homeowner, Erik Pronold, spoke with The Nugget about the incident and its aftermath.

Pronold said that he and his wife, Lucie, and his 11-year-old and 8-year-old sons were all asleep shortly before 2 a.m., when Lucie heard a noise in the back of the house. They initially thought it might be their youngest son sleepwalking, as he has been known to do.

“We have safety chains up there (on the back door) which are mostly to keep him in, not to keep people out,” Pronold said.

It quickly became apparent that someone was actually forcing their way through the door into the house.

“I got up and grabbed my deer rifle, because we had just got back from deer hunting,” Pronold said.

He opened his biometric gun safe and gave his wife a 9mm, then proceeded to clear the house, accessing training he had received in the U.S. Marine Corps during the Iraq War.

The situation was not immediately clear. Pronold recalls that the man who had broken in “started yelling ‘We’ve got hostages! We’ve got hostages!’” Pronold could not be sure whether the intruder was alone or if there were others, and the shouting about hostages made him concerned that someone had grabbed one of his sons.

Realizing that the intruder was alone and agitated, Pronold reported that he issued a clear command, saying that he was armed and that the intruder had five seconds to leave the house or Pronold would use lethal force.

The intruder had moved through the house from the back door to the front door and Pronold said the man yelled, “Don’t kill me, don’t kill me. I’m trying to get out!”

The man released the safety chains on the front door and exited. It was a fortunate turn of events, because Pronold’s older son sleeps in the front bedroom near the front door.

“If he had made a wrong turn and had turned toward (Pronold’s son’s) room, I’d have had to use lethal force, because I wasn’t going to let him into that room,” the homeowner said.

Pronold recalled that he returned to the bedroom where his wife was located. She had called 911. He gave her the rifle and took up the 9mm handgun and went back to his front door, now concerned about the safety of the rest of the neighborhood.

“I just shoved something dangerous out into the neighborhood,” he reflected.

Pronold said he got no more than two steps out of his door when he saw Huber running back at him. According to police reports, Huber had gone to a neighboring home and began ringing the doorbell. That homeowner also called 911 and told Huber to leave.

Pronold confronted Huber again and ordered him to get down on his knees. The man complied and Pronold allowed him to “knee-walk” to an Adirondack chair on his porch, where he held him as Lucie handed him their phone so he could relay information to 911 dispatch. Pronold held Huber there until law enforcement arrived, which he said took 20 minutes. The sheriff’s office confirmed that the call came in at 1:54 a.m. and the first deputy arrived at 2:15 a.m.

Huber reportedly told deputies he believed his family, who lived nearby, was being held hostage and was in danger. Deputies conducted a welfare check and found everyone safe and sleeping.

Pronold told The Nugget that he had been informed that Huber had taken a large amount of prescription medication prior to the incident. (Members of Huber’s family declined to be interviewed for this story.)

Pronold expressed compassion for anyone suffering from problems like those Huber exhibited, but he was dismayed to hear that the DA had reduced the charges in the case — concerned that Huber would quickly return to the neighborhood.

He contacted Assistant District Attorney Mark Miller last week.

“I called him up and let him know I wasn’t satisfied that he’d reduced the charge and made it a misdemeanor, that dropping the burglary charge was a mistake,” Pronold said.

Pronold sought and obtained a restraining order on Huber, though he said he has “no idea what the ramifications of violating that are.”

The homeowner believes that compassion and empathy are appropriate in this case, but he also wants his family and neighbors to feel secure in their homes.

“I don’t know what the perfect answer is, to be honest,” he said.

He said his family is trying to settle back into routine. He has upgraded his door security, and he reflects that homeowners who are armed should avail themselves of training to know how to react in threatening circumstances.

As a man of faith, he believes that things happen for a reason and that there was a reason a troubled man entered a home where an armed man prepared for violence was able to avert a violent outcome.

“The outcome of this incident was the best outcome it could possibly be,” he said.