• Last modified 1178 days ago (March 24, 2021)


Moving to small town teaches crime is everywhere

Staff writer

A Florence man is planning to buy a gun after an intruder broke through the back door of his home and walked into a bedroom where his 8-month-old granddaughter was sleeping.

John Burstein, 51, was only toying with the idea a year after moving from California to settle in Kansas where his wife grew up.

The break-in late Monday boosted his resolve to take steps to protect himself and his family — even in a town where both he and his wife feel welcomed.

“Even these small towns aren’t immune to this kind of behavior,” he said.

Burstein was watching television at 2 p.m. when Brandon Toon, 36, entered the family’s home near the corner of Marion and 7th Sts. dragging a large, white dog.

Burstein, 51, told his wife Heather, 49, to call 911 and yelled at Toon, who left the house.

“The extent of the confrontation was me yelling at him, outside some expletives,” he said.

Burstein checked on the baby, chased the dog out of the house, and found Toon waiting for him outside on the driveway.

Toon told Burstein he had heard screaming and was checking on them.

“I kept my distance from him due to the fact that I didn’t know if he had a weapon” he said. “At the time, I didn’t know if he was under the influence. We found out later he was.”

The couple told Toon police had been called and he retreated to a nearby trailer.

County sheriff’s deputies arrested Toon on suspicion of criminal damage to property, criminal trespass, traffic of contraband in a correctional facility, and possession of marijuana.

He is being held in Marion County Jail in lieu of $100,000 surety bond.

The Bursteins are grateful for the response of county sheriff’s deputies who they say “handled everything very well.”

“He was locked up in the car the entire time until they drove him away,” Heather said.

Heather said she is doing all right now, but admitted she “was a mess” 24 hours after the scary incident.

“It has calmed me down knowing he is still in jail,” she said. “We are hoping to continue living a peaceful life with our granddaughter and become more active members of the community.”

Toon was previously jailed June 17 to 18 for failure to appear in court, and May 28 to 29, and May 14 on suspicion of possession of controlled substance, marijuana, and drug paraphernalia.

Last modified March 24, 2021