LAKE CITY, Fla. (CBS Tampa) — An attempted burglary was thwarted not by police, but by the invocation of Jesus Christ’s name by the robber’s almost-victims.
Several women who gathered for a home jewelry party last Friday were interrupted by the arrival of 24-year-old Derek Jeremy Lee, who wore a ski mask and bandana to conceal his identity, according to CBS affiliate WFMY News.
He showed his gun and ordered the women to hand over their phones and money. The party of 14 was taken by surprise, but some thought it was a prank. One woman even reportedly pushed his hand to the side and called his weapon a water gun.
Lee responded by holding the gun to her head.
“I’m not joking,” he reportedly said to her and the others assembled, according to News 4 Jax. “I’m going to shoot someone. Give me your money.”
It was at that point – and after seeing fear register in her friend’s eyes – that homeowner Jacquie Hagler sprang into action, using her faith in an effort to protect herself and her friends from Lee.
“When I realized what was going on, I stood up and said, ‘In the name of Jesus, get out of my house now.’ And he said, ‘I’m going to shoot someone.’ And I said it again, real boldly,” Hagler was quoted as saying. “Everybody started chanting, ‘Jesus, Jesus, Jesus,’ and he did a quick scan of the room, and ran out the door as fast as he could go.”
Lee was arrested later that day, thanks to the descriptions offered by the women to police.
Drawing on her faith once again, Hagler said she forgives him for what he did.
“I have forgiven him and prayed for his salvation,” Hagler was quoted as saying by News 4 Jax. “I’m hoping this situation has led him to trust the lord and turn his life around.”
He was held in the Columbia County Detention Center on a $200,000 bond and is facing home invasion robbery charges. WFMY News also learned that police suspect Lee may have been involved with an attempted robbery of a 62-year-old woman at an ATM that happened just before he invaded Hagler’s home.