CLEVELAND — The morning of Nov. 23 started out like any other for Amanda Zupancic. She’s a special education teacher in Cleveland. Around 11 a.m. that morning, in what would be her third-period class, she was in a session with a middle school student and his mom on Zoom in the upstairs office of her west Cleveland home.
She was suddenly interrupted with a loud noise.
“I heard a glass-shattering crash downstairs,” she said. “I was like, 'hold on, I think someone is breaking into my house, just joking.' I didn’t think anyone would be breaking into my house in the middle of the day,” she said.
But that is exactly what was happening.
“There was a man walking though my baby gate with a knife in his hand walking upstairs,” said Zupancic. “He started threatening me, yelling at me, calling me names. He grabbed me upstairs into my bedroom.”
The man began rummaging through her things, all the while Zupancic’s student and his family were still on that Zoom call listening from Lake County.
In the 911 call, the student’s dad tried to explain the situation. “The teacher that teaches my son, somebody broke into her house. We saw it on the Zoom,” said the student’s dad to a Lake County dispatcher.
As the robber frantically searched for valuables, the dad gave as much detail to the dispatcher as he could.
“I guess she heard the man say, ‘Get on the floor. I’m going to cut your f-ing throat,’” he told the dispatcher.
Zupancic told the man he could have her car keys but they were downstairs. He agreed she could go and get them. She said, instead of getting the keys, she let her two dogs out.
“When I reached for my keys, instead I opened the gate and I have a German shepherd and a Great Dane-boxer mix. So the German Shepherd stood between myself and this guy, and the Great Dane Boxer mix went at him,” she said.
It gave her enough time to think.
“I just grabbed a pair of scissors and I chased him to the front door,” she said.
She continued to chase him down her street.
“I started chasing him with this pair of scissors, in my house shoes, down the street, yelling 'Help me, help me, this guy robbed me,'” she said.
Zupancic said a local contractor working on a house in her neighborhood saw the encounter and tackled the man to the ground and detained him until Cleveland police arrived.
When they got there, they arrested Charles Derosett.
Derosett is charged with aggravated robbery and felonious assault as well as other charges. He is a convicted felon, previously serving time behind bars for aggravated robbery.
Zupancic is still shaken up. But she said between her student’s parents, her dogs, her neighbors and random strangers, there’s more heroes in this story than there are villains.
“I’m lucky that there’s enough loving people in the world to figure this all out.”
This story originally reported by Jessi Schultz on News5Cleveland.com.