Thanksgiving night ended bizarrely for a Redwood City family after a man who thought he was protecting his children against would-be burglars is now facing a chance of misdemeanor charges himself for brandishing a weapon.
Edmond and Melissa Zencirci, their three children and Edmond’s mother, were settling down for bed after a long Thanksgiving day, when the family heard a loud bang in the alley on the side of their house.
The father of three, dressed only in his underwear, immediately reached for his gun out of the bedroom nightstand and a clip that was stored separately to protect his family against someone who he thought was trying to break into the family’s garage.
The bang shook Melissa out of sleep.
Edmond saw a man running across the street toward a sport utility vehicle and decided to chase after him to get the license plate number so he could report the incident to police.
The incident occurred before 11 p.m. on Brewster Avenue.
Edmond Zencirci ran out of his house dressed only in his underwear, however, and brought the gun with him as he hopped into his own SUV to chase down the vehicle that sped away. The vehicle he was chasing had at least two men in it, both wearing baseball caps.
The chase lasted several minutes before Edmond got close enough to the other vehicle to jot down the plate number.
When he returned home, his wife Melissa called police to report the incident. To Melissa’s surprise, however, the police dispatcher told her it was her husband who was being sought and that police would arrive at their home soon.
It seems the two men who were speeding away from the Zencirci home had already called 911 to report a man in a white Chevrolet Silverado was chasing them and that he had a gun.
That call came into Redwood City police at 10:59 p.m., according to the department’s police log.
The two men, an 18-year-old and 16-year-old, who the Zencircis thought were trying to break into their garage, were simply playing a prank on the family, they told police.
It was a doorbell ditch done at random, the two told police.
The Zencirci’s call to 911 was recorded at 11:07 p.m. according to police logs.
Melissa Zencirci couldn’t believe what happened next. The police took her husband’s gun and informed the family Edmond would likely face charges on suspicion of brandishing a weapon.
"The police believed their story over ours,” Melissa said. "The officer told me that my husband should apologize to me for his actions.”
The Redwood City Police Department had not forwarded the report to the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office as of yesterday afternoon because the report was incomplete, Redwood City police Capt. Ron Matuszak said.
Police did interview the Zencircis’ neighbors Sunday night to see if they had heard the same loud bang the family heard Thanksgiving night.
"They did,” Matuszak said.
It is a matter of who to believe, Matuszak said.
The two men were out running an errand for their mother to pick up a movie when they decided to pull the prank, according to the police report.
Yesterday was Edmond Zencirci’s 35th birthday. He spent the day nervously wondering if he would be charged. He was under the assumption that he could face felony charges. The Zencircis are former San Carlos restaurant owners and Edmond currently works in the industry at night. They have only lived in Redwood City for about three months and are wondering if they made the right decision to move to Brewster Avenue.
"I don’t know that anyone will be charged,” Matuszak said.
The family should find out today or tomorrow whether the DA’s office will charge him. If he is charged he will probably be given a notice to appear, Matuszak said.
The Zencircis are miffed, however, that police would believe the two men’s story over their own.
"I feel so bad for my poor husband,” Melissa said. "He felt like he was doing the right thing.”
The Zencircis have three children ages 5, 3 and 1.
"We were scared. It is shocking that they could lie their way out of it and that the police would buy their story. The police essentially called us liars,” Melissa said.
The family intends to file a complaint against the officer who took the report Thanksgiving night.
Bill Silverfarb can be reached by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone: (650) 344-5200 ext. 106.