“If you don’t shut up, I’m going to shoot you.”

The Victim: Sarah Downs
The Crime: Aggravated robbery
Date: Tuesday, Jan. 31
Time: 8:57 a.m.
Location: 10600 block of Park Preston

Those were the words that began Sarah Downs’s frightening ordeal. She was getting ready for her day that morning when the doorbell rang. She has a glass door and believed the person standing in front of her was her handyman.

When she opened the door, she quickly realized she was mistaken.

The large man standing there looked bleary-eyed and slurred his speech. Downs would later say she thinks he may have been on drugs. At first he asked if “Brenda” was there in a mumbled tone, and then tried to force his way in. Downs attempted to shut the door, but the robber forced his way in and pulled out a handgun. He then uttered the words above and pushed her to the ground. She would sustain a back injury after just undergoing spinal fusion.

After grabbing her up from the ground, the gunman ordered the retired teacher to take him to the jewelry. She led him to her bedroom. As he dragged her, Downs attempted to touch the emergency button in her home, but was unsuccessful.

“I thought, ‘This is the end of my life. I’m going to get raped or killed or both,’” she says.

In her bedroom, the robber rifled through her drawers and said all of her jewelry was fake and to take him to the more expensive items. Downs told him that was all she had, and he then pushed her down and ran out. Downs believes he may have thought her attempt at the panic button was successful. In her fright, Downs grabbed the phone and hid as she called 911.

Police took fingerprints at the home, and a neighbor described seeing a 2005 white or cream-colored SUV in front of the home around that time. Downs described the attacker as a very large (but not overweight) caucasian with a stubbly beard.

“It was a nightmare,” Downs says. “The policeman was just here, and he said an armed robbery home invasion is very rare in this area. Just don’t open your door unless you absolutely know who it is. That’s the moral to the story.”

Dallas Police Lt. Richard Dwyer of the North Central Patrol Division says this case is rare. He emphasizes that it is important to not be too trusting of people at the door.

In situations where elderly people live alone, “we rely on family members to take steps to help secure the elder person’s valuables and to communicate with them if strangers approach,” Dwyer says.

Dwyer says suspects in these cases usually use three different type of stories to gain entry into a home: They give the impression that they hold a position of authority and that the homeowner should listen to them; they try to prey on the sympathy of the person (a woman appears to be pregnant and comes to the door saying she is overheated and can she just sit down on the couch for a minute); or the suspect gives them a “chance in a lifetime” line.

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