The victim of Sunday night’s attempted carjacking in South Davis says he never expected to be the target of such a frightening crime.
“Be aware. This kind of thing can happen in Davis — it just did,” said the 37-year-old man, a lifelong Davis resident who asked to remain anonymous because the suspects remain at large. He said he is speaking out because, had it happened to someone else, “I would want to know it’s not as safe out there as you think it is.”
The incident occurred at about 5:50 p.m. Sunday in the parking lot of the KFC restaurant on Research Park Drive, where the victim had grabbed a quick dinner after watching Sunday’s San Francisco 49ers win over the Green Bay Packers.
Intending to go grocery shopping afterward, he ate his meal while sitting in his parked vehicle — a newer-model Range Rover — which he briefly left unattended while throwing out his trash at an adjacent gas station.
Afterward, “I go to put (the vehicle) in reverse, and a minivan pulls in behind me, perpendicular to me, and blocked me,” the man recalled in an interview Tuesday. “My first thought was, what is this idiot doing?”
He looked in his rearview mirror and saw the silver van occupied by two people — the driver and a passenger who was “fiddling around with something.” That person then got out of the van and flipped up the hood of his sweatshirt.
“At that point I thought, something bad’s about to happen,” the man said — a prediction confirmed when the suspect knocked on the Range Rover’s window, lifted up a revolver “and pointed it in my face.”
Faced with a decision to make, the man said he went with his gut instinct. With his vehicle still running and in reverse, “I floored it,” he said. The Range Rover hit the minivan with enough force to push it backward, giving him enough room to escape from the parking lot.
“I was just waiting for the gun to go off, but it never did,” the man said.
After leaving the parking lot, he headed from Richards Boulevard onto eastbound Interstate 80, where he called 911 after making sure the suspects weren’t following him. He then drove to the Davis police station to file a report.
Upon returning home — where, grateful to be alive, he hugged his fiancée and called his parents — the man researched carjacking avoidance measures. He said one of the safety tips he found advised never eating alone in your car.
“I’ll never do that again,” he vowed.
Davis police Lt. Glenn Glasgow, whose agency is still investigating the incident, said drivers should make a habit of parking in well-lit, highly populated areas, and “always be aware of your surroundings.”
As for the victim’s decision to flee the scene instead of relinquishing his vehicle, Glasgow said that’s a judgment call each person must make on their own.
“We want people to make decisions based on the safety they feel with their choice,” Glasgow said. “If he felt safe doing what he did, and he was successful, that’s great, but not all circumstances dictate taking that kind of evasive action.
“There may be other times where people may not feel safe enough to do so — they need to evaluate whether they’re going to comply with the suspect’s demands,” Glasgow added.
While he never got a good look at the minivan’s driver, the victim described his would-be carjacker as a Hispanic man in his early to mid-20s, standing 5-foot-9 to 5-foot-11 and weighing 179 to 190 pounds.
“I think I caught him by surprise,” the victim said of his narrow escape. He said he got a brief look at the suspect’s face as he backed up his vehicle, and “he looked shocked that I did that.”
Glasgow said the Police Department is contacting businesses surrounding the crime scene to find out whether the incident was captured on surveillance video. Meanwhile, anyone with information about the crime, or who may have witnessed it, is asked to call police at 530-747-5400.
— Reach Lauren Keene at [email protected] or 530-747-8048. Follow her on Twitter at @laurenkeene