The woman ran from her East Side apartment with only a towel to cover herself just before Columbus police killed one of two masked men suspected of trying to rob her Thursday night.
The men, one with a gun and the other with a bat, forced their way into Chanel Sellars' apartment about 11:15 p.m., just after she had taken a shower, Sellars said.
"They told me to get on the ground. They kept asking for money, and the one with the bat said he was going to bust my head open," Sellars said yesterday.
As she cowered on the floor, police were responding to a 911 call from a neighbor who had seen a suspicious man in the parking lot outside the one-story building at the Montrose Square Apartments off Kimberly Parkway.
When police arrived, the men ordered Sellars to answer the door and tell the officers that everything was OK.
Sellars, 23, a retail worker who lives alone, suggested that the robbers hide in her bedroom.
"They were stupid enough to do it," she said.
Sellars told the two officers sent to her apartment she was being robbed and ran out the front door of her apartment. Seconds later, she heard gunshots and shattering glass.
Police said the officers, identified Saturday as Vincent Montgomery and Lee Hurst, fired after the man with the gun confronted them. Bullet holes indicated that at least three shots were fired through the bedroom window, which is next to the front door. A bullet hole was in the front door and another beside the door.
The man shot, Trajuan F. Johnson, 20, was pronounced dead at 11:38 p.m. in the bedroom of the apartment. His last known address was in Pataskala.
Police arrested Kyle A. Stewart, 19, of Northridge Road, in the apartment. He is charged with aggravated robbery and with aggravated murder, which means he is accused of participating in the crime that led to Johnson's death, and was in the Franklin County jail last night.
Police are investigating whether Johnson or Stewart robbed others. The department wouldn't release photos of them because it doesn't want to prejudice potential eyewitness testimony.
The neighbor who called 911 Thursday night said she saw a young man acting suspiciously near a parked vehicle in front of Sellars' apartment on Seville Avenue.
"It looks like he's going to break into an apartment or a car or something. He's just creeping around," she can be heard telling the 911 operator on a recording of the call.
Her roommate, who asked that their names be withheld for fear of retaliation, told The Dispatch he saw the man pull on a ski mask and sunglasses. The prowler then joined another man and began peeking into the windows of Sellars' apartment.
After watching the men enter and turn off the living-room light, the male witness said he left his apartment and walked down the access road to direct officers when they arrived.
Sellars said the robbers knocked on her door and forced their way inside when she opened it a crack to see who was there.
She said she was thrown against the wall when the men barged in and was nursing a swollen left hand yesterday morning. She also was packing up and moving out of the apartment, which was in disarray following an all-night police investigation.
Sellars said one officer asked if the apartment was a drug house. Police have said most home-invasion robberies are aimed at drug dealers.
"That bothered me," she said. "I don't use drugs."
She plans to move in with relatives while looking for a new apartment.
The neighbor who guided police to the scene called Sellars "a lucky girl."
"I feel sorry for the girl for what she went through, and I feel sorry for the officers for having to shoot someone," he said. "I feel sorry for the guy who got shot, too, but I guess he had it coming."
Montgomery has been with the Police Division for nine years, Hurst for less than one year.
It was the first fatal shooting this year for Columbus police officers. The division was involved in six fatal shootings last year.
All are presented to a Franklin County grand jury to determine whether the officers will be indicted. The cases also are investigated by veteran homicide detectives, whose work is reviewed by commanders to determine whether the officers acted within division policy.