INDIANAPOLIS – It’s a walk that 67-year-old Lee Williams has made countless times—a 3 a.m. cigarette run to the BP station at 34th Street and Moller Road on the west side of Indianapolis.
But on his way back to the La Perla apartments Wednesday morning, Williams noticed he was being followed by two young men.
“I could hear them walking up behind me,” Williams said.
After the two men made some idle conversation, Williams says they each pulled a handgun on him.
“He just turned around and said ‘What you got?'” Williams recalled.
Williams didn’t have much–$21 in cash and the watch on his wrist. And that apparently wasn’t enough for the two robbers.
“So, he said, ‘Where do you live?’” Williams said. “I said, ‘Right down there.’ He said, ‘Well, we’re gonna go home’ (and) ‘we’re gonna leave with something if it ain’t nothing but your life.'”
They were forcing Williams to take them back to his apartment so they could find more stuff to steal. He believed the men intended to kill him after robbing him, because they weren’t wearing masks. He had the length of the walk across the parking lot to think about his escape.
“And I knew jumping on them wasn’t the way to do it,” he said. “Because there was two of them.”
Above all, he knew he had to stay calm. As they approached his second floor apartment door, Williams thought he might be able to quickly open it, jump inside and slam it behind him, but they were too smart for that. One of the robbers took his key and opened the door, walking in first.
When they got inside, the men made Williams stand close to the door while they started looking through different rooms for valuables.
“So about that time I looked at the door and I said, ‘Wait a minute, the lock’s not on and the chain’s not on it either,'” Williams said.
So he took his chance. With one step, he opened the door. The next step, he was out the door. Then, he was running down the stairs as fast as his 67-year-old legs could carry him.
“I said, ‘Please God, don’t let my legs give out,’” he told Fox 59.
As soon as he hit the stairs, he could hear the two men running out after him. When he hit the ground level, he ran one way and they ran another.
“I think they just wanted to get out of here because they’d lost the edge,” he said.
A short time later, Williams realized he was safe—just minutes before, he feared for his life. All the while, he says he stayed calm. He credits his time in the Navy and years of driving big rig trucks as training for being cool under pressure.
Williams is now talking with management at the La Perla apartments about starting a neighborhood watch group. He can’t hide a smile when thinking of what the robbers got away with.
“Twenty-one dollars. And they’re gonna be mad about that watch because it was a Timex and it didn’t work.”