Break-in at Neighbor's Brings TSO Running

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

A supervisory transportation security officer at Port Columbus (Ohio) International Airport did not hesitate to help a neighbor endangered by two men who broke into her house and were stealing handguns.

Stuart Cottrill was at home when his neighbor, Rhonda Cook, was called by her burglar alarm service, warning that an alarm had gone off in her home. She was at a local pool chaperoning her and Cottrill's daughters. As they rushed home, Cook's daughter called Cottrill just before they arrived home.

Cottrill came outside to greet his daughter, and as he talked to her, Cook – who briefly went inside her home – came running back out of her house to say that the burglars were still inside.

Armed with a handgun (he holds a concealed weapons license from the state of Ohio), Cottrill ran to the Cook home, surprised the burglars, and held them at gunpoint until police arrived.

Cook, who had been confronted by the intruders when she went inside, said, "It is my firm belief the only reason that I am still alive was Stuart's willingness to assist me during this traumatic situation."

Cottrill, who has been with TSA Port Columbus since July 2002, said he is still bothered that his daughter and the Cooks' daughter, both 13, had planned to be in the Cook home when the July incident occurred. Luckily, they decided to go out.