Tatiana Calzado

Rahil Baharia stands in front of the house where the burglary took place. Baharia moved six months after the event.

How 45 minutes changed his life

Senior opens up about how home burglary changed his life

February 9, 2018

His hands were tied behind his back. He could hear the groans of his father as he was getting beat by two people. He saw his mother walking around with a gun pointed behind her head, trying to find any money or valuable items to give.

On Dec. 9, 2016, senior Rahil Baharia’s home was invaded by five men at around 3:30 a.m. The five men were wearing black shoes, black jackets, black pants and black ski masks covering their faces. The invaders broke into the house through the backyard door.

“The first thing I heard was a crash,” Rahil said. “I didn’t know what it was at first, but within about 10 seconds there were three people in my room. Before I knew it, there was a flashlight and gun pointed at my head.”

The intruders came upstairs to Rahil’s room first. His parents were downstairs, and even they did not have enough time to see what the crash was. The intruders immediately asked Rahil where the money was kept.

“I told them, ‘I don’t know, I’m only 16, I don’t know where my parents keep the money,’” Rahil said. “They just kept asking, and then they covered my face with a blanket and kept a flashlight on me; just in case I wouldn’t be able to see so I couldn’t see their faces. Two (of the intruders) went downstairs to talk to my parents and one of them just stayed in my room.”

Rahil’s mother, Rozina Baharia, would eventually ask to see her son. Once the intruders permitted her to see Rahil, she told him not to worry and that everything would be all right. They then proceeded to take off some laces of shoes in Rahil’s closet and tied Rozina’s hands and feet.

“What would I do if they hurt or killed my husband, son, or both?” Rozina said. “I had fear that something bad would happen to my family.”

The intruders led Rozina downstairs. Rahil, left alone, could hear his father, Malik Baharia, getting beaten up downstairs.

“That was probably the hardest part because I couldn’t do anything at that moment,” Rahil said. “I was alone in my room just tied up. Eventually, I kept asking if I could go see my parents. They picked me up and put me by the top of the staircase and turned me around so I couldn’t see anything, but I could see my dad getting beat. I could just hear him groaning. Then I see my mom walking around with a gun held behind her; she was just leading the way to where the money was.”

Rahil said the intruders were in the house for over 45 minutes. Rahil is not sure why his house was targeted, but said the intruders were convinced there was a safe in the house.

“One guy picked me up and put me over his shoulder,” Rahil said. “At that moment I thought I was going to get taken; I didn’t know what was happening. They put me in my parents’ room. My dad was on the bed with a pillow over his head and my mom was tied up in the corner. They put me down in the bathroom. Once I saw the pillow over my dad, I thought, ‘they’re going to shoot him.’ That was probably the scariest thing; I almost witnessed the death of my parents.”

The intruders took any cash, jewelry and watches given by Rozina and Malik. Soon after Rahil and his parents were placed in that room, the intruders left and told them not to move.

“One of the guys came back two minutes later, to check if we had moved and none of us did,” Rahil said. “We still waited another 10 minutes just to confirm they had left. Then, my dad got up from the bed and cut himself loose, he came over to me and cut me loose and then we called the police.”

Once the police arrived, Rahil and his family were questioned. The police also searched the perimeter for any evidence the intruders left behind. CSI was also called, but no evidence was found.

“It was frustrating,” Rahil said. “After it happened, a lot of families came over to our house. We had to tell the story over and over again every time someone would ask. It was annoying; we didn’t want to share what we had just been through. We didn’t want to keep reliving it.”

At first, Rahil said he had not processed what he had been through. It wasn’t until a few weeks after the incident when Rahil realized how traumatizing it all was.

“I started going to therapy,” Rahil said. “I was diagnosed with PTSD, anxiety and depression.  Then I stopped going to therapy, just because I convinced myself I was fine, even though I wasn’t.”

Rahil said he tried to stay out of his home as much as he could because it reminded him of what had happened. He would sleep in his parents room for a few months because he was scared to sleep alone.

“I thought I was going to die that day,” Rahil said. “I just think that it’s crazy that in one day, your whole life could change.”

The case was closed a couple months after the incident. The five intruders were never caught because little to no evidence was found.

“It doesn’t make me feel any more safe,” Rahil said. “Five guys got away with assault [and] armed robbery. They’re still out in the world; they could easily do that to someone else. It’s crazy that [authorities] would close the case so quick.”

Rahil and his family moved out of their house at the end of last school year, and right before the new school year. Rahil decided to start going to therapy again; he was prescribed medications for his anxiety along with antidepressants, and was also given sleeping medicine.

“I would have bad dreams, and any little sound would keep me up,” Rahil said. “Even now, with my sleeping medicine, I still wake up at that same time around 3:30 – 4 a.m. When I wake up at that time, it’s really hard for me to go back to sleep.”

It has been difficult for Rahil to find people who can relate and help him.

“I had a few people I could talk to but no one really understands what I’ve been through,” Rahil said. “Even my therapist kind of gave up on me. She said my situation was so unique that she didn’t know how to help me. Most people who suffer PTSD are usually war veterans. Someone being robbed at gunpoint in their house, it’s not something that happens everyday.”

Rahil said he is worried he will never be the same again. Still, he hopes that he will not suffer as much as he does.

“I’m always going to hope I’ll get back to normal,” Rahil said. “Sometimes I get worse, sometimes I feel perfectly fine. I’ve never gotten close to being my normal self again. I guess I’m always going to be living in fear and that is no way to live. I can pretend all I want, but inside I know I’ll never be the same person.”

One thing Rahil has learned through his experience is to appreciate every good thing that comes his way.

“My point of view [on] life completely changed,” Rahil said. “You never really know when its your last day; your days are numbered. Something that went through my head [during the attack] were all the regrets I had. I was given a second chance. I regretted that I didn’t take an opportunity to do some things, I regret not saying ‘I love you’ to my parents enough. I’m not going to live with regrets. Every day, I tell people how much I appreciate them, because I really don’t know when my last day could be.”

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