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Homeowner fatally stabs hammer-wielding burglar

Updated: August 9, 2013 2:30AM

A hammer-wielding burglar was fatally stabbed early Thursday during a struggle with a homeowner who found the man breaking into the garage of his West Pullman home, police said.

About 3:15 a.m. Thursday, the alarm sounded at Mark Hayes’ home in the 0 to 100 block of West Brayton on the Far South Side, said his father, Melvin Hayes.

Melvin Hayes said his son went out to investigate. And just before he confronted the man inside his garage, Melvin Hayes said his son heard the words “get the gun.” Then the burglar attacked his son, he said.

“The guy comes after him with a hammer,” the father said.

His son was armed with a knife, though. And he said his son stabbed the burglar “probably two times on the left side, below the rib cage.”

“It must have hit an artery,” Melvin Hayes said, because blood was splattered “all around.” He also said the burglar appeared to be the only intruder in the garage.

Two blue ADT security signs were prominently displayed in the front garden of the home Thursday morning. The path to the front door was splattered with drops of blood, with more blood dripping down the metal gate and drops leading out to the sidewalk.

By the time police arrived, Harold Cornell, the 52-year-old burglar, had fled. Mark Hayes, 44, told police he had been inside the home with his wife when the alarm went off.

The elder Hayes said his son’s adult stepdaughter and teenage stepson also live there, and the home has been burglarized before.

“That’s why he put the alarm in the garage,” Melvin Hayes said.

Police said the burglar fled after the struggle and either flagged down a passing motorist or caught a ride to Roseland Community Hospital from a driver who was waiting for him. Chicago Police News Affairs officer John Mirabelli confirmed that police were talking to that person Thursday morning.

“This individual may very well be a good Samaritan,” Mirabelli said.

The burglary occurred in a neighborhood of mostly brick bungalows, with neatly clipped shrubs and freshly mowed lawns. Neighbor Devon Cross said serious crime is rare on his block, although residents say they’ve seen a rash of garage burglaries in recent weeks.

Cross, 35, described Mark Hayes as a “hardworking” family man who installs cable for a living.

“He’s a real cool guy,” Cross said. “Everybody likes him. He even hooked up our cable. . . . This right here is a nice neighborhood. I even leave my windows and doors unlocked sometimes. I don’t have no worries.”

Cornell died after reaching the hospital, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office.

Mark Hayes was treated for minor injuries suffered in the struggle, police said. His father said he “seems to be OK.”

“Now, of course, the reality of what happened has to sink in, too,” Melvin Hayes said.

An investigation is ongoing.

Contributing: Brian Slodysko

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