An anonymous woman from Rock Hill, South Carolina, reportedly had a disturbing experience in a local parking lot. Someone in another car apparently attempted to blind and disorient her using the vehicle’s high beam lights. And what happened next prompted police to issue a warning.
An account of the incident was posted to Facebook by a friend of the alleged victim called Jessica Taylor. The alleged victim had reportedly been in her car in the parking lot of a Walmart store. Then, without warning, the car in the opposite space apparently turned its high beam headlights on.
According to the Facebook post, the bright lights were blinding. Combined with the element of surprise, they were apparently enough to disorient the woman. What’s more, this was reportedly the point at which the incident took a darker turn.
As the alleged victim struggled to see, two people allegedly got out of the car parked opposite and approached her vehicle. “Someone turned on their high beams, and she looked up, and she can’t really see anything,” Taylor stated in an interview with NBC Charlotte.
“And then all of a sudden, she heard two men on both sides of her car, the passenger and the driver side,” Taylor continued. “As she was pulling away, they were still trying to get in her car. They were wearing hoodies, and they had the hoodie part down past their eyes.”
Fortunately, the alleged victim had managed to lock her doors before the attackers could get in. Consequently, she was able to escape physically unscathed in her car. However, she was reportedly so distressed by the incident that she subsequently left South Carolina altogether and went to stay with family elsewhere.
Preferring to remain anonymous, the alleged victim then let her friend post about the event. “It was just too close to home, and I wanted people to be aware,” Taylor told NBC Charlotte. “Who knows what would’ve happened if they had gotten [into] her car and she didn’t lock her doors?”
Taylor’s post quickly went viral, with many people sharing the post on Facebook in particular. And eventually the story reached the Rock Hill Police Department (RHPD), which then wrote a Facebook post of its own in response. The primary concern seemed to be establishing that the story was actually true.
“We’ve noticed a Facebook post… it has been shared numerous times, if you originated this post, please call us to speak with an officer. I cannot find a call to 9-1-1 during that time for anything similar to this. We want to make sure if there is more to investigate we can do that,” the RHPD post read.
However, the statement that no one had called the police led some Facebook users to wonder if they had been duped. Such has been the recent proliferation of fake news stories on social media that people speculated that this might be another example. As a result, a few were quick to criticize the story.
A post by user Ashley Huffstetler read, “It’s always ‘a friend’ and never any mention of calling law enforcement or filing reports. Same thing with the ‘my kid almost got kidnapped by two middle eastern men at Walmart.’ People need to find better stuff to do with their time.”
Such comments led to a lively debate about the merits of Taylor’s account. Some felt that it had been posted in good faith, while others disputed the story, claiming that it might have been fabricated. Meanwhile, Taylor defended her actions.
And despite the criticism, Taylor nonetheless got in touch with RHPD and relayed the alleged victim’s story. Having heard the details over the phone, police agreed that it warranted further investigation. They also confirmed that they believed that the incident did happen as described.
The police have since begun trying to piece together the evidence relating to the incident. To start with, they are attempting to source surveillance footage from the store to try to identify the alleged attackers. And a subsequent WCNC news story ran with a footer encouraging any witnesses to call Crime Stoppers.
Mark Bollinger, who serves as public information officer for the RHPD, told WCNC that the alleged attackers might have been attempting to cause the woman to exit the vehicle. The report added that this line of thinking formed part of the ongoing police investigation.
The police also used the story as an opportunity to speak to the public at large about the need to get in contact in the event of a crime. They stressed that they do use social media to learn about such incidents.
The updated RHPD post was also critical of some of the reactions on Facebook to Taylor’s account. “There are comments on here today that were demeaning to a professional law enforcement Facebook page. People are all the time making assumptions without knowing all the facts,” the post read.
Officer Bollinger reinforced some of these sentiments in his comments to WCNC, telling people to call the police whenever they needed to. “If you ever feel like you’re in an unsafe situation, don’t think you’re bothering us,” Bollinger explained. “That’s what we’re here for, we’re here to help.”
Additionally, Bollinger encouraged the public to be careful whenever they sit in their cars in parking lots. He advised people to be mindful of avoiding potentially risky situations, stressing that this is especially true if they are alone in vehicles.
Should something happen to you or a friend, the official advice is simple. You should call 911 on any occasion when you feel unsafe. Stay inside your vehicle and drive away if possible, potentially to the local police department.