West Dundee sergeant hailed for Sleepy Hollow attacker's arrest, but he credits other heroes

Like Sleepy Hollow survivor, her brother, or a utility worker, but chief gives him credit

  • Dan Haines, West Dundee police sergeant

    Dan Haines, West Dundee police sergeant

 
 
Updated 10/19/2019 4:01 PM

If you ask West Dundee police Sgt. Dan Haines, he'll assure you he's not the hero in the arrest of a Sleepy Hollow home invader who attacked two teens this past spring.

He'll likely point to the 19-year-old woman who was sexually assaulted and stabbed in her home, or her 17-year-old brother who also was stabbed when he tried to intervene. They fought off the man, Haines said, and ultimately saved each other's lives.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Maybe he'll tell you all the hard work was done by his partner, Sgt. Kyle Ficek, who was the first on the scene to "take command of the whole dynamic situation" -- an especially difficult task when the details of the case were so sparse.

Or perhaps Haines will credit the utility worker who pointed him in the right direction after the violent offender ran off covered in blood and carrying three knives. As Haines followed the man, the worker trailed behind, ready to step in if necessary.

There were several heroes who emerged that April afternoon, and Haines wouldn't think to put himself into that category. But interim West Dundee Chief Tony Gorski begs to differ.

As the officer who chased the attacker, disarmed him without injury and put him in handcuffs, he said, Haines put the community's safety above his own and likely prevented further tragedy.

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"You couldn't ask for more from an officer," Gorski said.

The call for West Dundee police assistance came in shortly after Sleepy Hollow officers responded about 12:36 p.m. April 8 to the stabbing at the teens' home on Saratoga Parkway, Gorski said.

After the initial attack, authorities say the offender, later identified as Fabian J. Torres of Sleepy Hollow, entered a nearby house and held a woman at knife point before running away. He was spotted walking through residents' yards toward Deer Lane, where Haines was one of the first officers to arrive, Gorski said.

The utility worker honked his truck's horn to alert Haines to Torres, who, upon noticing police, started running between houses, he said. Haines chased Torres on foot into an undeveloped area, then toward the Carrington subdivision, before catching up to him.

He weighed his options: firing his gun or deploying his Taser, which meant he'd have to get within 21 feet of Torres. Using the Taser posed an added risk, Gorski said, because if Haines misjudged the distance or missed his target, the armed offender would have a chance to turn and attack the officer before he had time to draw his gun.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Haines still chose the less lethal option, carefully closing the gap enough to hit Torres with his Taser, Gorski said. He incapacitated him and removed the three bloody knives from his hands, all while effectively communicating over his radio.

Torres later was charged with attempted murder, kidnapping, home invasion and sexual assault, officials said.

"It was very, very dangerous for (Haines), and he kept his cool," Gorski said. "He took this man into custody without doing any type of injury to him, other than the discomfort of the Taser, and not knowing all the extent of what this man just did.

"It's just an outstanding, courageous act."

Haines is expected to be presented Nov. 4 with the police department's "Medal of Courage," a new award given to officers involved in cases of "highly unusual accomplishment," Gorski said. The ceremony will take place at a 7:30 p.m. village board meeting.

But Haines said he's confident any other police officer in his position would have acted similarly, noting the award "says less about me and more about whoever wears the badge."

"At the time, I didn't really think about it. You just do your job," he said. "I guess it sunk in later how serious it was. ... It's a case I'll never forget."

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