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Alex Baker, third from left, with his mother, Lilly, brother, Nicholas, and father, Kerry, is awarded a certificate of bravery by Indiana State Police Sgt. Chad Dick and Crawford County Prosecutor Cheryl Hillenburg before the Crawford County-North Harrison boys’ basketball game Feb. 4. Baker earned the honor for helping to defuse an intense situation when he and his brother were taken hostage at their home near Marengo in 2007. Photo by Wade Bell

Teen honored for heroism

February 16, 2011
At a recent boys' basketball game at Crawford County Junior-Senior High School, one of the players, Alex Baker, was summoned to the floor where an Indiana State Police officer was waiting for him — not because he was in trouble, but because he was a hero.

In 2007, Baker, along with his younger brother, Nicholas, was taken hostage and held several hours in their home near Marengo while police negotiated with their captor and worked to free them. Alex, a 14-year-old eighth-grader at the time, was instrumental in bringing the standoff to a peaceful resolution.

The situation began that day, April 18, miles away in Morgan County when a man later identified as Todd Dunn, broke into a home there. As he was searching the house for items to steal, he came across a shotgun in a closet. Minutes later, the owner returned home and Dunn took the man hostage. Dunn then forced the man to get into the victim's truck and the two headed south, with Dunn holding a shotgun.

Later that day, the two men made it to Crawford County, and the victim was able to jump from the truck at the intersection of S.R. 237 and Interstate 64 and hide in nearby woods. He was then able to use his cell phone and notify police.

Dunn turned back north on S.R. 237, and, when he got to English, stopped for gas at the English Mini-Mart. While he was inside, Crawford County Sheriff's Deputy Andy Beals drove by and saw the truck. When he stopped to check it out, Dunn ran back to the truck, jumped behind the wheel and rammed Beals' patrol car. Dunn then drove north a couple of miles, found another truck and abandoned the Morgan County truck. He then drove east on S.R. 64, through English and toward Marengo. By the time he reached Marengo, several police cars were trailing him. He drove into a yard, then turned around and headed back west on S.R. 64. Stop sticks were deployed, but Dunn kept driving on flat tires. When he reached the Baker driveway, he turned in, drove to the back of the house and broke into the residence by smashing the glass in a back door.

Lilly Baker heard the police cars and went outside the front of the house with her daughter to see what was going on. Police officers immediately escorted them away from the house for their protection and set up a perimeter around the residence.

Alex and Nicholas were inside the house as Dunn was breaking in the back door. When he realized what was happening, Alex took Nicholas to a bedroom where they hid in a closet.

"It was pretty scary," Alex said, in a recent interview. "I didn't know what to think. I just grabbed my little brother and hid with him. But the guy was searching the house, and, after about 10 minutes, I came out. I didn't want to surprise him, in case he found us hiding. I didn't know what he would do. He had a gun and his forearm was bleeding badly where he had cut it on the back door glass. He asked me if there was anyone else in the house, and I went in and got my brother. We sat in the hallway for quite a while and he asked us all kinds of questions. Then, he said he needed my help. He wanted me to call the cops."

Alex called 911, and the dispatcher was able to patch his call to an officer on the scene. Dunn spoke to police briefly, but allowed Alex to do most of the talking.

"It was a 6-1/2 hour standoff," Indiana State Police Sgt. Chad Dick said. "Alex kept the communication going, and he remained calm throughout the entire standoff. He was really the calm of the storm."

In a recent press release, ISP Superintendent Paul Whitesell said, "During the course of the standoff, Alex handled himself in such a manner that possibly saved his, his brother's and the suspect's lives. Hostage negotiators revealed that Alex was the calming presence for both the police and the suspect during this entire event. Most communications between the negotiators and the suspect were made through Alex. It was apparent that his actions and common sense prevented our officers from having to make a dynamic entry that would have placed everyone in danger."

Late that night, Dunn finally threw his gun outside and surrendered to police, ending the ordeal. Neither Alex nor his brother were harmed.

Dunn was later given a 35-year sentence for the crime, and also was sentenced in Morgan County for the crimes he committed there.

"Therefore, Alex," Dick said at the presentation, "for your meritorious action in a dangerous situation, I award you this certificate and State Police Uniform Medal on behalf of Paul Whitesell, Ph.D., superintendent of the Indiana State Police."

"I was excited," Alex said later. "It means a lot to me."

Alex plans to attend college and work toward a degree in secondary education.

"I also want to play college basketball," he said. "I'm on the team here, and I love it."

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    February 17, 2011 | 03:32 PM

    Good on you Alex and Nick!

Schuler Bauer
Barbara Shaw
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