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Old March 9, 2005, 11:03 AM   #1
Jungle Work
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A Change of Heart Since It's My Heart That's In Danger

Suspect sought after Berk survives kidnapping nightmare

By George Schwarz
george.schwarz@amarillo.com



Dr. Steven Berk; "He put his gun to my face and said he would kill me if I didn't cooperate."
AMARILLO
It took Dr. Steven Berk two hours to survive the often unsurvivable.

Berk, the regional dean at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in Amarillo, was kidnapped at gunpoint at 9:15 a.m. Sunday from his Puckett neighborhood home.

He spent the next two hours riding around Potter and Randall counties with an angry and agitated criminal.

Berk, also an internal medicine specialist, said his medical experience kept him calm and in control. It also might have saved him from a far worse fate.

"Being calm is what we do," Berk said, adding there was no advantage to getting panicky.

Otherwise, the story might have ended differently.

A warrant for the arrest of Jack Lindsey Jordan, 41. The warrant was for aggravated kidnapping in connection with the episode. Jordan also has a outstanding warrant for a parole violation from Texas State Pardons and Paroles, according to a news release from the Amarillo Police Department.

Jordan is from the Lubbock area, said APD Cpl. Brian Thomas.

Berk, 55, spoke openly about the kidnapping Monday, giving away his stress only with the continual wringing of his hands as he sat on a comfortable couch in the family room of his home on Southpark Drive.

Berk said he was working on a paper on his computer in his study.

"He just walked up and put the gun to my face and said he would kill me if I didn't cooperate," Berk said in a hushed voice.

With the gun shoved in his back, Berk and the kidnapper went into the room where his son was. Berk told him to act normally, and the teen left for church.

The suspect took cash from Berk's wallet, but it wasn't enough.

The kidnapper had pulled his white SUV into the Berks' open garage. He insisted that Berk drive that vehicle to an ATM. Berk told the kidnapper that he doesn't use ATMs and didn't have a PIN, a number used to access cash from an account.

"Anyway, we were driving, driving around to find an ATM," Berk said. "We found a couple, but not the ones that he wanted. He wanted one where nobody was."

Berk convinced the kidnapper he didn't have a PIN. The suspect then insisted they get gas, but when partially through filling the tank, something "spooked" him and they drove off.

The criminal also looked through Berk's wallet and, learning Berk was a physician, insisted on getting some drugs.

After convincing the kidnapper that he had no way of getting drugs, the kidnapper demanded they return to the house.

"The house was probably chosen because the garage door was left up. ...The garage door was unsecured, and that's why that place was chosen. As usual, it was a crime of opportunity."

"I pleaded with him not to do that," Berk said.

His wife would have been home by that time, and the criminal wanted jewelry and money from her wallet.

"He said he'd stay right out there, he'd give me one minute and if I didn't do it he would come in and kill us," Berk said.

Berk complied with those orders. They returned to the SUV and eventually the kidnapper decided to let Berk off in Bushland.

But, Berk said, he could see the car's vehicle identification number (VIN) on the windshield sticker. Along the way, he memorized it.

"As soon as I gave it to the police, they knew who this guy was," Berk said.

When he let Berk off, the suspect said, "You didn't get hurt. If you just forget this, you'll be fine. If you call the police, I'm going to come and kill everybody in your house."

Berk said that gave him pause, but in the end he called police.

The incident has prompted Berk to think seriously about getting a gun, although he never before had considered owning a gun and had always backed gun control.
"The one thing I want to do today is get a gun," Berk said. "Not so much for a future robbery, but for this particular individual if he were to come here, because the interesting thing you think about was the difference between him and me ... he's got a gun and I don't."

It might not have made much difference, Berk said, because "that gun was in my face before I heard anything, and then I saw this jittery guy whose face I'd never seen before."

At each point where the kidnapper was thwarted - at the ATM, the gas station and during the discussion of drugs - the suspect became agitated and angry.

Berk said he was surprised at what happened after the suspect dropped him off in Bushland.

Berk jogged a quarter-mile to a main road and tried to flag down cars.

About 10-15 cars went by him before a woman stopped and offered him her cell phone to call authorities.

Berk said the only time he was scared was in the first minute or so when the suspect confronted him.

"I felt that if this guy was boxed into a corner, he would be very, very violent," Berk said.

Sgt. Randy TenBrink of the Amarillo Police Department said the suspect "was just looking for a place to light."

"The house was probably chosen because the garage door was left up," TenBrink said. "...The garage door was unsecured, and that's why that place was chosen. As usual, it was a crime of opportunity."

Berk said the lesson is keep your doors locked - and there are dangerous people in the world.
*****************************************************
This happened Sunday to a Liberal Now Turned Conservative. The BG dropped the good doctor off just west of my house. Intresting how the Good Doctor's Opinion of Guns has changed since it's his and his family's life that is on the line. It also shows what can happen when you don't secure your home, even during the day time when you're there. Intresting, very intresting to me.

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Old March 9, 2005, 11:11 AM   #2
FirstFreedom
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Quote:
"The one thing I want to do today is get a gun," Berk said. "Not so much for a future robbery, but
Geez this blissninny is thick-headed - he still thinks that that ONE guy is the only criminal in the world with a gun who might do him harm. Still, on balance, a good thing - a partial convert.
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Old March 9, 2005, 11:38 AM   #3
chris in va
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People are funny like that though. Converts are made according to who shot who.

Someone gets held up at gunpoint, they want a gun despite their previous anti-gun stance. Another person accidentally shoots themselves or a loved one, they want to get rid of it. Even Brady...notwithstanding the damage the campaign has done to the firearms community, I can certainly understand his feelings. You're surrounded by armed SS and out of nowhere a guy screws up your life with a friggin .22.

Just the way it works I guess. Currently I subscribe to being armed and hopefully not being a statistic.
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Old March 9, 2005, 01:12 PM   #4
tlm225
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This incident is further evidence that merely having a gun is not enough. Personal safety is a total package of awareness and preventative measures. Even if the good doctor had a gun on his hip in his home (as some advocate) it would have done him no good as the BG penetrated his residence and was beside him before he knew it. I'm not saying that you need to make your home into Ft. Knox but part of your deterence is making your residence a less appealing target than those around you. Lighting, secured doors, no convienient hiding places near the house and so on. Good thing he kept his head in this incident but one decision that he made that I do criticize is that he brought the BG back to his home and WIFE!!! No way I would bring my wifes potential executioner to her. Granted the BG could have killed him for his refusal then went back on his own but thats a maybe. Perhaps his experience will cause a few more in his anti-gun community to rethink the "it can't happen to me, the police will protect us mentality".
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Old March 9, 2005, 07:41 PM   #5
Dwight55
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I am glad the good doctor lived through the ordeal, . . . glad he had presence of mind to get the vin no to assist in apprehension.

But, golly, gee whiz, . . . how dumb do you have to be to leave your basic house door, garage door, etc. open as an invitation to the first bg that walks along? Has he never heard of door locks? Keys? Maybe the thing just shut, . . or perhaps a little bell on the top so it goes ding a ling when someone opens it?

It has taken me some time, . . . and some effort, . . . but except for an occasional relapse, . . . my wife & son keep em closed & locked, . . . 24/7 x 365. If no one is standing in the doorway, . . . it should be closed and locked.

May God bless,
Dwight
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Old March 10, 2005, 12:53 PM   #6
foghornl
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I live in a "Good Area", in The Burbs. I NEVER leave my garage door open. Even if I am mowing the lawn, etc, garage door is closed. Except when running the snow blower...I only clear my driveway (45 feet straight to the street) and the walkway in front of my home

I am always amazed by the number of folks that leave garage doors open ALL NIGHT.
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Old March 10, 2005, 12:57 PM   #7
FirstFreedom
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Yeah, but you two are in Ohio - this guy was in West TX, where crime is not nil, but very low, and a lot of people go about things more casual. It's just a matter of time before they catch up to the rest of the world, of course.
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Old March 10, 2005, 01:41 PM   #8
Jungle Work
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FF,
How true, sad it's going to change, but it will.

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