Hamilton intruder dies after diving through windows

An intruder left a trail of blood in a suburban Hamilton neighbourhood after diving through three residential windows. An elderly woman was stabbed after hitting him with a cane.

WARNING: This story contains graphic images

Police tape covers a Lilacside Drive home after a pair of late-night break and enters, including one involving an 86-year-old woman. The suspect died in hospital. (Sunnie Huang/CBC)

An intruder who jumped headfirst through three residential windows is dead and an elderly woman injured after a strange pair of early morning break-ins on Hamilton Mountain.

In the first instance, the 23-year-old man jumped through a home's front window, sustained cuts from broken glass and was then given a small "whack" with a cane by the elderly woman living in the house. She was cut by the intruder and treated at hospital.

The man fled by diving through the house's rear window, and 10 minutes later tried to jump through another window, this time of a ground-level apartment. He left a trail of bloody barefoot footprints between homes. When police arrived at the second home, the intruder was badly hurt. He later died in hospital.

The bizarre sequence started  just after midnight Tuesday. A man was seen walking on the east side of Lilacside Drive and crossed the street to a home. He jumped over the porch railing and went headfirst through one of the front windows, said Hamilton police Const. Debbie McGreal-Dinning.

The 86-year-old woman who lived there was stabbed. When the culprit came through the window, she gave him "a little whack" with her cane, McGreal-Dinning said.

 "This is an 86-year-old woman that walks with the assistance of a cane," she said. "A guy jumps through her house, her initial reaction was to whack him with the cane. Then he holds a knife to her and cuts her."

The man left by jumping through the back window of the home, jumped the fence and ran toward Mohawk Road East. The elderly woman went out onto the street and screamed to neighbours for help. Her injuries were not life threatening.

Ten minutes later, a man broke into an apartment at 494 Mohawk Rd. E., where he encountered a startled 15-year-old boy who ran out of the room and called to his mother. The mother called the police.

When police and EMS responded, the man was in "medical distress," McGreal-Dinning said. He was transported to hospital where he died.

The woman's cane strike was not responsible for his wounds, McGreal-Dinning said.  "Obviously putting your body through three different windows, you're going to come out of that with some injuries," she said.

The man was injured by going through the windows, but the cause of death is still unknown, she said. The coroners office is investigating.

The front window of the elderly woman's house was broken Tuesday morning, the stairwell littered with glass. A man who identified himself as her grandson told CBC Hamilton that she had sustained cuts, but declined further comment.

Julia Claus, whose son lives nearby, said the elderly woman had been worried about recent break-ins in the neighbourhood.

"She told me twice last week there's been a lot of break-ins in the neighbourhood and to be careful," she said. "She was really worried."

Outside 494 Mohawk Rd. E. on Tuesday morning, there was a long trail of blood and several bloody footprints.

Police are still investigating why the man entered the residences. His name is being withheld at his family's request.

Investigators would like to hear from anyone with more information on the incidents. If you have more information, call 905-546-4947.

Tips for seniors living alone

According to McGreal-Dinning, the 86-year-old woman's house was secure with windows and doors locked at the time of the break-in. The person came through the window. There was nothing the woman could have done to prevent the crime. However, Hamilton Police Service suggests some simple steps that can prevent a break and enter to your home.

  • Be mindful of your security habits. Lock all accessible windows and doors when going out, even for short trips. Window and door screens do not stop criminals.
  • Ensure windows and doors are locked even when you are outside in your backyard or inside your house.
  • Limit the size of accessible window openings if they are being used for ventilation at night.  You can do this by installing a securable window stop. 
  • Never store ladders on the exterior of your house as this can provide access to windows that are otherwise inaccessible.
  • Consider adding motion-activated lights, trimming trees and back bushes or altering fencing so you can see intruders. 
  • Lock your vehicle and remove valuables, and remove your electronic garage door opener.
  • Report suspicious persons or activities in your neighbourhood to police, or call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477. 
  • If you live in a building, treat the building's entrance as your own front door. If you find the door is left ajar, notify the superintendent. 

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With files from Canadian Press