Fort Worth neighbors pitch in after family tragedy

SWAT team fix-up

Credit: WFAA

Neighbors on Fandor Street in Fort Worth are working to fix up the Baker family's house after it was damaged last month in a SWAT team raid.

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by JIM DOUGLAS

Bio | Email | Follow: @wfaajdouglas

WFAA

Posted on November 7, 2012 at 6:52 PM

FORT WORTH — Almost every window is smashed in a modest house on Fandor Street in west Fort Worth. There are even two fist-sized holes in the garage door.

A police SWAT team riddled the home with tear gas canisters to end a tense standoff with an armed man on October 29, when a 15-year-old told 911 his dad was threatening to hurt his mom.

"He went back into the bedroom, got a gun, and put it in her face," said neighbor Brian Bender. "The oldest son — the 16-year-old — stepped in between the gun and his mother while the 15-year-old called 911."

Bender said Martha Baker told him police got her and her sons out safely. But when her husband Mark emerged with guns, officers shot and severely wounded him.

"This is way out of character," Bender said. "It shocked everyone."

Bender and others on Fandor Street don't know why it happened. They only know a happy family, good neighbors for 14 years.

"They've been a huge benefit and blessing to all of us, so we want to give back," said Beth Christensen, who lives across the street.

They want to get Martha Baker and her sons back into their home. But first it will cost thousands of dollars to clear the lingering effects from so much tear gas.

"I offered up my house for them to stay because it's in the school district," said Bender, who has moved in with his girlfriend for now.

Bender is using his professional contractor skills to replace broken doors and windows. The rest of Fandor Street will hold a giant garage sale, barbecue and fundraiser this Saturday, complete with donated music and a bounce house.

Bender's girlfriend even bought a new TV to be raffled off. She said the Baker family brought her food when she was out of work.

No one blames Fort Worth police for the family being out of their home. In fact, neighbors have nothing but praise for the way officers handled what could have been a deadly standoff.

But now, neighbors want to do all they can to help this family heal.

"Honestly, I broke down in tears. My heart went out to the family across the street... all of them," Christensen said. "They really want to come home. The boys have friends here. They have relationships here. They're waiting for life to be normal."

Maybe not normal yet, but as good as good neighbors can make it.

They've also established the Fandor Street Benefit Fund at Chase bank.

E-mail jdouglas@wfaa.com

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