By Laura Ann Sills - email
COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - It was just starting to get light Friday morning when a Columbus woman noticed a man following her around the track at Lakebottom Park.
She tells News Leader Nine that she tried to walk faster, but he just followed her lead, "He pulled my t-shirt and he held a gun to my head. He was like, 'give me all your money.' I was like, 'I do not have any money,' and I just started screaming."
A witness running at the park tells the same story, "She started screaming and I stopped and turned and ran back. I said, 'Are you ok?' and she did not answer for a bit," explained Connie Wilkes.
The victim told us she did not answer because the gunman threatened her, "He said to tell them 'I am your nephew' or I will shoot you."
Wilkes got this explanation from the man, "He said 'I am the nephew, this is my auntie, and I just scared her.' Just something did not feel right." Witness Connie Wilkes had that gut feeling, but started to walk away anyway.
The victim tells us the man with the gun tried to get her to leave the park, and cross the street. She knew if that happened, it would not end well. "I knew if he took me anywhere, you know, where there was not anyone around, I do not know what my chances would have been," said the victim.
So, she grabbed the gunman's shirt, tore it off, dragging him into the road to draw even more attention to herself.
Her screams made Wilkes, and another man walking the track, turn back and call police.
We are told the suspect took off running.
Wilkes said, "She was a very brave woman to do what she did and I think the lesson for me is we need to pay attention when we are out doing stuff and pay attention to people around us. If something does not look right, or feel right, it probably isn't."
The victim says she normally carries mace or a stick when she walks, and this was the one time she did not.
Her advice, "Be careful of your surroundings, and if you feel like someone is invading your space, get away from them."
Columbus Parks and Recreation said they have worked with Columbus Police since the razor blade incident, and patrols have been beefed up at Lakebottom.
The victim agrees, she told News Leader Nine that she always sees police around the area, but Friday was her unlucky, or some would say lucky, day.