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Woman stabbed by intruder recalls harrowing ordeal

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SALT LAKE CITY — As Breann Lasley watched her younger sister run out of their house to get help, she thought it was for the last time.

"I just saw her go upstairs and I thought that was the last time I'd see Kayli because that's when he started stabbing me. I said, 'Kayli, he's stabbing me, he's stabbing me,'" Lasley recalled Monday.

But it was at that moment that Lasley believes she was protected by two people.

The first was her Savior, Jesus Christ. Lasley said when she went on a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, she had an experience where she felt he was sitting next to her.

"And I had that exact same feeling in that moment," she recalled.

The second was a Salt Lake police officer who arrived as she was being attacked and stabbed multiple times with a knife. He shot and killed the intruder just after the man whispered to her that she was going to die.

"That officer came down so composed. And he came downstairs, and right when we made eye contact I knew I was safe. It's a miracle that he had so much composure and was able to take that shot," she told KSL.

On Monday, Lasley told the remarkable story of her terrifying ordeal that left her with both physical and emotional scars.

On Sept. 23, Robert Richard Berger, 48, was shot and killed inside Lasley's house near Liberty Park after he forced his way in through an open window. He had just been chased out of an apartment by another family just a few doors away after he tried to enter through their window, but the homeowners had fought back.

"Bre" Lasley, 27, lives in the house with her sister Kayli, 22. They had just said goodnight to each other and Bre Lasley had gone to her room to do some work on a laptop. She cracked open the window to her older home. A few minutes later, Berger propped a chair up against the house and began to climb in through the window.

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"I heard a man's voice say, 'Hey girl, I'm coming in.' And seconds later he was in my room," Lasley said.

She tried to push the intruder out, but he was too big and had already managed to get inside.

"At one point he said, 'Just listen to me, just listen to me, and 'Cooperate with me, cooperate with me.' I said, 'I'm not going to cooperate with you. You're not going to get what you want out of this situation,' and I just started fighting and punching as hard as I could," she recalled.

As the two were fighting, Kayli Lasley heard her sister's screams and went running into her room. The two women then tried to push the man out of the house as they struggled through different rooms. As Kayli Lasley was hitting Berger from behind, he kicked her down a flight of stairs, her sister recalled. She was also pushed down the stairs moments later.

At the bottom of the stairs, Kayli Lasley was able to call 911 on her cellphone. But when Berger saw what she was doing, he started choking the woman. Again, the sisters came to each other's aid and Bre Lasley tackled Berger into a laundry room.

"And when I tackled him into our laundry room, he was just on top of me just beating me very intensely," she said.

Kayli Lasley started beating Berger with a metal rod. That's when her sister noticed the knife.

"I said, 'Kayli, he has a knife, he has a knife.' And that's when Kayli started hitting him harder and telling him to get out of our house," she said.

There was one point he kneeled on top of me and he was kneeling on both of my arms and he had his knife above me telling me he was going to kill me. And he tried to stab me very intensely at least six or seven times, but it was like there was a shield over me.

–Bre Lasley

As the struggle continued, Bre Lasley told her sister to run and get help. As she watched her sister run up the stairs, Berger's assault on her intensified.

"There was one point he kneeled on top of me and he was kneeling on both of my arms and he had his knife above me telling me he was going to kill me. And he tried to stab me very intensely at least six or seven times, but it was like there was a shield over me," she said.

That's when she believes she was being watched over from above.

"(Berger) missed me every time. He was getting frustrated. He was saying, 'Why isn't this working? Why isn't this working?' Then he said, 'Fine, I'll stab you in the head.' And he missed again," Lasley recalled.

Photo Courtesy family
Photo Courtesy family

"I know, without a question, that we were totally protected, that there were angels there helping us."

Outside the house, Kayli Lasley found the Salt Lake police officer who had been called to the prior break-in at a neighboring apartment. Bre Lasley said she is thankful those residents called police, otherwise the officer who saved her would never have been there in time.

After trying to stab Lasley in the head, Berger lifted her up, moved the knife to her throat, and whispered in her ear that he was going to kill her.

"He whispered one more time he was going to kill me, and that's when the officer introduced himself," she said.

The officer, whose name has not been released, came down the stairs holding a flashlight in one hand and his gun in the other. He ordered Berger to drop the knife three times, Lasley said. She remembers Berger flexing, then the officer fired one round, fatally striking the intruder.

Later, after Lasley had been taken to the hospital where she was treated for multiple stab wounds, including to her lower abdomen and leg, the officer called her.

I know, without a question, that we were totally protected, that there were angels there helping us.

–Bre Lasley

"I couldn't say anything except, 'I love you, I love you, I love you," Lasley recalled.

All she could think about was how one person had tried to take her life, and another person just four feet away was willing to potentially give his life for hers.

Today, Lasley said she was physically OK, but she admits she has struggled emotionally since the frightening incident. She is currently staying with her parents and doesn't know if she'll go back to her house on Roberta Street.

Her family has set up an account at America First Credit Union under the name "Lasley Sisters Charitable Account" to help with their medical bills.

The shooting is being investigated by the Unified Police Department and its findings will be handed to the Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office for review.

Berger had just been released from the Utah State Prison eight days before the attacks. He had served more than 14 years behind bars there. He was released to the Fortitude Treatment Center to "stabilize as he transitioned to the community," according to Department of Corrections officials. He was last seen at the center on Sept. 20 when he checked out for a "medical appointment." He failed to return that night and a warrant was issued for his arrest the next day.


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