'Stop or I'll shoot'

White City man's quick response has burglary suspect facing the business end of a Smith & Wesson revolver
John Lewis describes how he held suspected burglar Zenaido Quinonez-Aispuro at gunpoint outside his home in the 3600 block of Avenue G in White City around 5 a.m. Friday.Mail Tribune / Bob Pennell

WHITE CITY — Christine Lewis sauntered into the bathroom before dawn Friday and was confronted by a terrifying sight: The figure of a man was silhouetted against the bathroom window, and he was trying to break into the home.

Her husband, John Lewis, heard the commotion from the bedroom.

"You could see a perfect silhouette of the guy just outside the window," John Lewis said. "It shook my wife up pretty good."

The suspect had pulled down the screen and was trying to force open the window.

The Lewis' knew their windows were old and faulty, so they had stuck a piece of wood in the runners to keep someone from being able to open the window from the outside.

The fix worked, and the silhouette turned away from the window.

Lewis, however, thought the man might try another place to break into the house, which sits along Avenue G in White City.

"I said, 'Honey, grab my pistol out of the drawer,' " Lewis said.

She returned with a .38 Smith & Wesson revolver, one of several firearms Lewis owns.

Lewis, 57, walked out his front door, revolver in hand, and spotted the suspect walking near the parking space outside his house.

When Lewis stepped outside, he saw that the suspect had the front grille of a car in his hands, which he had apparently ripped off a car parked next door.

Lewis shouted a warning to the man, telling him to stop in his tracks.

"I said, 'Stop or I'll shoot,' " Lewis said.

The man turned toward Lewis and began walking toward him. Lewis shouted another warning, which gave the man pause.

The two remained in a standoff until Jackson County sheriff's deputies arrived and took the man into custody.

The suspect was later identified as Zenaido Quinonez-Aispuro, 24, a known Sureño gang member who frequents the Medford area but has no permanent address. He was jailed on charges of attempted first-degree burglary, second-degree theft, second-degree criminal mischief, possession of burglary tools and two counts of trespassing.

Quinonez-Aispuro had ripped several screens from the windows on the Lewis' house as he tried to gain access. It is unknown why he would rip off the plastic grille of a car, which holds very little value.

Lewis figures he was desperate to steal something.

Lewis said he keeps a firearm handy to protect his home. He also is a hunter. He said he has practiced gun safety since he learned to handle and care for a firearm in the Boy Scouts.

"I own a gun for reasons like this," he said. "I want to protect myself."

Lewis said he didn't plan to shoot Quinonez-Aispuro. He only wanted to hold him there until deputies arrived.

However, if Quinonez-Aispuro had crept in through the window as he had planned, then gunshots would have rang throughout the neighborhood.

"The way I see it, your home is sacred ground, and you have the right to protect it," Lewis said.

Quinonez-Aispuro remains lodged in the Jackson County Jail on $24,000 bail.

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471 or cconrad@mailtribune.com.

Reader Reaction
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Rules. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or fill out this form. New comments are only accepted for two weeks from the date of publication.