WINTER HAVEN, Fla. (WFLA) — The quick reaction of a woman who was confronted by an armed man in a Polk County parking lot may have saved her life.
Winter Haven Police Department investigators say at 7:05 p.m. on Wednesday, a 33-year-old woman was leaving the Jo-Ann Fabrics store located at 1522 3rd St SW in Winter Haven and walked towards her vehicle on the south side of the shopping plaza.
When she got to her car, she opened the driver’s side door and 18 year-old Jaquan Williams approached her. Williams pulled out a black semi-automatic hand gun and pointed it at the ground in her direction and said, “I’m hungry, give me money,” according to police.
Williams then placed the handgun in his waistband, leaving the handle of the gun exposed for the woman to observe.
The victim pulled out the only cash she had from her pocket and handed the $5 to Williams. Williams told her that it wasn’t enough money and he demanded she go with him to an ATM.
There was a white SUV that Williams nodded toward as he told the victim to go with him. Investigators say she saw a black male with a bandana around his mouth inside the SUV.
When the victim saw the SUV, she told Williams that there was an ATM inside the Big Lots located in the same shopping plaza. Williams agreed to let the victim go to the ATM inside of the store. He escorted her inside with the gun still inside of his waistband.
Once they were inside of the store, the victim was able to go inside the ladies restroom alone. She found another woman in the restroom and informed her of what was happening and to call 911.
Williams saw the woman exit the restroom and he went to get the victim. Police say he demanded her cell phone, to keep her from calling for help.
Williams and the victim began walking around the store in search of the ATM. During this time, the woman who had been inside the restroom was on the phone with the 911 operator, while keeping an eye on Williams and the victim.
When Williams and the victim neared the front of the store, officers entered and took Williams into custody without incident.
“Her quick thinking to divert Williams’ attention to an ATM inside of the store, instead of entering a vehicle certainly saved this victim from possible physical harm,” said Winter Haven Police Chief Charlie Bird.
“Couple that with the citizen who was not afraid to help, by keeping a visual on the pair inside the store resulted in the arrest and a good outcome for everyone.”
When detectives interviewed Williams, he said he targeted her because she was alone.
Police say Williams was on probation for Grand Theft and Burglary. He was charged with Armed Robbery, Armed Kidnapping, Tampering/Harassing With Victim (taking the cell phone) and Violation of Probation.