My experience being robbed and kidnapped
This happened in my hometown of Bell Gardens, California. It was December, 1992. I was 18 and home from college for the holiday.
My dad had me go to Food4Less to pick up a few groceries. It was almost exactly 10 PM when I went into the store. I walked out about a half hour later. The parking lot was moderately lit. I’m not sure if there was any security or not.
As I walked toward my car, I noticed two Hispanic gangbanger-type guys, walking in my direction. They were very close to each other, touching elbows in fact. I sensed they were acting oddly, but didn’t think much of it. We passed each other without incident, and I just assumed they were headed to the store. I did notice them make a sudden change of direction just after we passed. Again, I dismissed it.
As I reached the car, I opened the door, sat down and put the bag of groceries on the seat next to me. Suddenly, I felt cold steel against my left cheek. I knew it was a gun, held by Bad Guy #1. He told me to scoot over. I did. Then he told me to get in the back seat, which I did by climbing over the seat. BG#1 then told BG#2 to go around and get in the back seat with me. When BG#2 got in the back seat, I saw BG#1 insert a magazine into the gun. He then handed it to BG#2 and said, “If he sees my face, shoot him.” I took this as my cue to look at my lap, and only my lap. BG#1 started the car and drove out of the parking lot. I had been kidnapped.
As we drove, I prayed. I was not a Christian then, but I believed. They methodically took my wallet, cash, jewelry, watch, even the groceries. The ride was only about five minutes but felt like hours. I only ever looked down the whole time. I felt the car pull into a driveway and stop. BG#1 said, “We’re getting out here. Wait five minutes before you leave. If anyone comes looking for us, we’ll go and kill your family.” He had my license, so it was a valid threat. Then they left.
I waited about three minutes before looking up. I half expected them to still be standing there, but they weren’t. I got in the driver seat and left. When I got home, my dad saw my empty hands and asked me where the groceries were. I told him I had been robbed. I went into my room and sat on the bed, shell-shocked. I just stared into space. I’m not sure I could even process what had just happened. It took me about 15 minutes to even shed tears.
17 years later, I’m still stupid, but I have learned a few things along the way. I will try to list some of the more basic here:
• I should not have gone to the store at 10 PM.
• I should have consciously parked in a well-lit area.
• I should have been much more aware of my surroundings and alarm bells should have gone off when the (eventual) BGs were acting weird.
• I should have turned right back around and into the store if I felt something was not right.
• I should have been scanning 360 degrees as I walked into the lot.
• Once I noticed the BGs change direction, I should have done the exact same thing, turn around and walk back into the store.
For the record, I am half Mexican and a sometime (as a teen) gangbanger myself (albeit a wannabe one). In Bell Gardens, gangbangers were a common sight. Their mere presence was not cause for concern. But I did miss the very obvious signs that something was not right.
I never did call the police. There was too much risk, I felt, for the death threat to be realized. They had my address and I had never gotten a good look at their faces anyway.
This experience has colored my life. I am much more conservative and “law and order” than my peers, and I think it is because of this. Further, I strongly believe in the right to carry which, while not the reason I left California, is one major reason I didn’t return.
Most importantly, I have learned that I was in “Condition White” that night. I don’t generally use the terms “Condition White”, “Yellow”, etc., but I now understand their meaning. Never again will I be that unaware. I don’t blame myself, though. I was just a child. I fully believe the Lord protected me that night, and I thank him for it.
I have posted this here hoping that you, or someone you love, can learn something from it and be safer.