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I’ve been doing something that makes reporters antsy: I’ve been sitting on a story.

A few weeks ago, I interviewed the Homewood man who was attacked and carjacked outside his house on Oct. 16. He graciously welcomed me into his home for an interview just a week later. Sitting on the couch with his dog, he described in detail what happened to him.

Afterward, I wrote a typical news story that included this man’s name and basic details about the incident. Though I deliberately avoided specifics, my editors at the H-F Chronicle decided not to publish the story.

You see, the three guys who attacked this man, who I’ll call C, were not caught. My editors decided it wasn’t safe for us to print the story with the perpetrators still at-large.

  Man beaten, robbed in
  carjacking at his home

  (Oct. 18, 2018)

  Vehicle taken in carjacking
  recovered in Harvey

  (Oct. 21, 2018)

Instead, they encouraged me to write this column to tell C’s story. Because he wanted it told. He felt it was important and empowering to speak up about what he endured.

On the evening of Oct. 16, C was returning from a family get-together when he was approached by a man who pointed a gun at him and demanded his wallet and keys. Panicked, C ran away.

“I just screamed because I didn’t know if I was going to get hurt or abducted or raped,” C said. “I wanted there to be witnesses.”

The man ran after him, joined by two accomplices who jumped out of parked cars. Together, the three men knocked C to the ground and began punching and kicking him.
They didn’t say much, just “Give us your stuff.” Relenting, C handed over his possessions. The criminal trio drove away in three cars—C’s car and two other cars.

“I thought I was going to die, so I just gave them my stuff,” said C, who is a college student in his early 20s. “‘Take whatever you want. I just want to live.’”

The police later found C’s car, which was smashed up and trashed with McDonald’s garbage. His wallet was in the car, intact except for his debit and credit cards. The criminals bought their fries and pops with his card, along with items at local gas stations.

The men who attacked him were young, C said. Surprisingly to me, he said they were “just being stupid,” and probably weren’t seriously dangerous criminals. 

Maybe C was still in shock, but his gentle and almost forgiving attitude felt sincere. He seemed to be grappling for perspective, as anyone would in his position. One thing was certain — the courage he showed in talking to me.

“The first couple days, it was really hard for me to function, talk to people, sleep. I kept thinking about what could have happened or what I could have done better. At least I’m not dead. It could have gone so many different ways.”

C suffered some real consequences from his attack. His slender body had “bruising everywhere,” with his shoulder and chest especially sore from being thrown to the ground. 

The car needs a deep cleaning and some body work, at the least.

When I asked C whether the incident changes his perspective on living in Homewood, he shook his head. 

He’s much more cautious now with his personal safety, of course. However, the incident only reinforced for him how much he loves living in Homewood, as the community rallied around to support him after the attack.

It also proves the point, C said, that bad things can happen to people anywhere, even in a place like Homewood.

“Don’t let your guard down because you don’t know what could happen. Because we live in such a privileged area, we think everything is sunshine, rainbows and unicorns, but anything could happen.”

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