One woman was riding an intercity train when she noticed something drop into her lap. It was a note from the stranger sitting behind her and it contained the most sinister message. With no idea how to react, the lady felt that she had had no choice but to fake a seizure.
Julie Dragland lives in Oakland, California – the third largest city in the San Francisco Bay Area. She works as a PR Specialist at SEGA Networks in San Francisco. And in her spare time she sometimes likes to unwind in front of the television with a good crime drama.
Although Dragland enjoyed watching felons on screen, she no doubt thought that she’d never be up close and personal with one. That’s exactly what happened to her in September 2017, however. The 32-year-old was riding through San Francisco on one of the city’s BART trains when she experienced a terrifying ordeal.
It was approximately 5:00 p.m on a Saturday afternoon and Dragland was simply minding her own business. The train that she was riding was heading to Dublin. It had started its journey in Daly City, to the south of San Francisco, before passing through the city’s center on its way to the East Bay Area.
As the train was making its way through downtown San Francisco, something very unsettling happened to Dragland. A stranger sat behind the woman dropped a note on her lap. Someone had hand-written it in bold, red ink and the ominous message it contained was terrifying.
“There are two guns pointed at you now,” the note read. “If you want to live hand back your wallet + phone NOW + do not turn around and be discreet. Do not turn around until after you have left civic center + you will live.”
Naturally, the message terrified Dragland. “When I read the note, I started freaking out,” she subsequently told the San Francisco Chronicle following her ordeal. “I did not want to give up my stuff, but I had no idea who was behind me.”
With her life seemingly hanging in the balance, Dragland had no idea what to do. First, she plucked up the courage to mouth, “Help me,” to a man sitting opposite. He didn’t appear to notice, however, and exited the train at the next stop. And that was when Dragland decided that she would have to improvise.
The PR expert thought that if she could convincingly fake a seizure, then her would-be mugger would leave her alone. “If I fake a seizure or fake like I’m passing out, I’m not even not complying,” she explained to CBS San Francisco. It was a risky strategy, but at this point it was all that Dragland had.
So, she started convulsing in the hope that someone would come to her aid. “I probably looked very ridiculous,” Dragland told the San Francisco Chronicle. “I slumped sideways and started shaking and crying, I closed my eyes and increased the vigor so people would pay attention.”
And soon Dragland’s dramatics attracted the attention of a couple who were nearby. They approached her to see if she was OK. That was when Dragland handed them the note so that they could understand the gravity of the situation for themselves.
According to Dragland, her assailant disembarked the train at the very next station, which was Civic Center. She also believes that the wannabe robber was an older woman who was carrying a suitcase. Dragland could see no evidence of a gun, however, never mind two.
The BART Police Department later confirmed that it had logged the incident in its crime system. “The victim was not sure who handed her the note and did not see anyone with a weapon,” read the official police summary of the event.
Following Dragland’s ordeal, officers inspected the station at which her would-be attacker fled. They found no one matching her description, though. As a result, they started surveying security footage from the train in the hopes of catching a glimpse of the suspect.
Later, the person in question was described as a woman in her 30s. She was said to have distinctive, long, strawberry-blonde hair. Police also revealed that, although there were 15 people in Dragland’s carriage at the time of the incident, no one else reported anything suspicious.
Considering what she’d been through, Dragland remained remarkably level-headed about her experience. Soon after her ordeal, in fact, she took to Twitter to explain what had happened. Alongside an image of the note, she wrote, “Someone just tried to rob me ‘at gunpoint’ on BART. They sat behind me and dropped this note into my lap.”
Shocked by what they had read, many of Dragland’s followers sent her their well-wishes. “Saw your story on @KTVU a few minutes ago,” one of them tweeted. “So glad you are doing okay and I hope that the suspect is caught soon!”
But despite the calm tone of her online report, Dragland told CBS San Francisco that the incident had left her shaken. “I was terrified,” she said. “Then I started to be like, is somebody really going to shoot someone for a phone and a wallet? I don’t know. I started to question it a little bit, but I was still really scared.”
Later, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that Dragland had told cops that she would not be pressing charges if they found a suspect. She apparently said that she’d rather put the whole incident behind her and move on with her life instead.
She did, however, reveal where she got her ingenious idea of faking a seizure from. And it turned out that television binges can save lives. “I think it had something to do with watching a lot of Law & Order,” Dragland revealed. “I think I saw that in an episode − I was very impressed with myself.”