Teen helps thwart restaurant robbery

January 25, 2013 5:00:40 AM PST
A quick-thinking teenager protected his mom and sister, helping alert police to a dangerous situation at a North Side restaurant by texting his dad after a robber threatened the rest of the family.

It was 6 p.m. on Sunday evening when a man walked in, said he had a gun and demanded money. Thanks to the quick-thinking 15-year-old, however, that man is behind bars.

It was a simple seven-word text.

"Don't come, robber in here, call 911," the text read.

That's what Nathen Lane sent from his mother's phone while they were locked in a back bathroom of the Lakeview coffee shop Sunday evening.

A man who said he was armed and threatened to shoot them was outside, allegedly threatening to rape the clerk. Meanwhile, his father, Craig, who had walked down the street got the text.

"It didn't seem like a teenager's usual abbreviated text language and that's when I knew this was serious," Craig Lane said.

So Craig Lane called police. While inside the coffee shop his wife and children were trying to hide from the suspected gunman. Minutes earlier they had seen him walk in with a hood covering most of his head and were immediately suspicious.

After getting cash from the register, the Lane family says the man tried to assault the clerk and then make his getaway. But Nathen had alertly erased the text he sent his father immediately after sending it, so the gunman never saw it.

"He left with our phones and that's when I was like, 'We're going to die,'" he said.

Moments after calling 9-1-1, Craig Lane started running back to the shop to check on his family. Police were already ahead of him and within moments they had the suspect, 43-year-old William Castle in custody.

The family later learned Castle had just recently been released from a Tennessee prison where he'd served about 20 years for similar crimes.

Nathan and his mother later identified Castle in a line-up, to the delight of a proud father.

"That he would send a text and then to delete it, the way one could think through that situation is pretty amazing," Craig Lane said.

Castle is now charged with several felonies including aggravated robbery, as well as unlawful restraint. He is being held on $1 million bond.