A fleet-fingered 15-year-old in Chicago helped thwart a store robbery and protected his mom and sister by alerting his father via text message to a robber in a cafe.
“Don’t come, robber in here, call 911,” read the text from Nathen Lane, which he sent while locked in the back bathroom of the Cassava Coffee shop in Chicago’s Lakeview section with his mother and 10-year-old sister.
A robber who said he was armed had forced Nathen, along with his mother and sister, into the back of the coffee shop and threatened to shoot them and rape the store clerk, according to Lane’s father, Craig Lane.
Craig Lane, who had walked down the street, received the text from his son and immediately called the police.
“The instant I saw it, I wondered if he was being funny and if this was an odd joke,” he told ABC News. “But I noticed that it was all spelled correctly [and] it wasn’t using that teenage abbreviated approach to texting. That’s when I realized it was serious.”
Craig Lane called 911, and police responded within minutes.
Police apprehended 43-year-old William Castle as he allegedly tried to make his getaway out the store’s back door with the store clerk. Nathen and his mother, Jagoda Lane, were later able to identify him in a lineup.
Castle had demanded to see the call histories of the store customers’ phones, but Nathen had deleted the text he sent to his father so there was no record.
“He left with our phones and that’s when I was like, ‘We’re going to die,’” Nathen told ABC News affiliate WLS-TV.
“It’s an amazing skill set that he has to think so calmly and so intelligently under such a great period of stress,” Craig Lane said of his son. “He acted in a way where the detective said it was as good as good gets.
“We’re certainly very proud of him,” he added.
Castle had just recently been released from a Tennessee prison, where he already had served 20 years for crimes including attempted rape, robbery and kidnapping. He is now charged with several felonies, including aggravated robbery, and is being held on $1 million bond.
Castle is scheduled to appear in court on Jan. 21. He has not been assigned an attorney and will likely be represented by a public defender, according to the Cook County State Attorney’s Office.
Nathen’s father said his son is experiencing a bit of celebrity status as a result of the incident, but remarked on his modesty.
“In his matter-of-fact nature, he wonders why this is all such a big deal,” he said.