Woman fights back against teenage carjackers

MEMPHIS, Tenn. —  A Mid-South woman was carjacked in Frayser but she didn't let them get away that easily.

Memphis Police say fingerprints led them to a 16-year-old boy accused of carjacking a Catherine Johnson at gunpoint last week.

Court records show Reginald Applewhite was arrested for the same thing last year.

Johnson was about to load a washing machine into her SUV outside her cousin's house on Ardmore Avenue last Thursday morning, when she says Applewhite and another teen jumped in.

"My cousin start yelling my name like, ‘Cat! Cat! Cat! They taking your car,'" said Catherine Johnson.

Her first instinct was to do whatever she could to stop it.

"I dived in the back of my truck. The boy pulled a gun and said, ‘If you don’t get up out the truck, I’m gonna shoot you,' Johnson said. "My little cousin was right next to me – she’s 14 years old – and I didn’t want her to get shot or me, so I just got up out my truck and let them have it."

Police quickly found Johnson's SUV eight miles away, but it’s what they found on it that led them to Applewhite.

Investigators were able to track him down after pulling his fingerprints from the car. The 16-year-old was already in the system from another alleged carjacking in December.

"It’s sad," Johnson said. "I just feel like kids shouldn’t be out here doing this. They should be out here doing something productive with their life instead of trying to take from others that’s trying to make it in life."

Applewhite’s 2017 carjacking charge was later dismissed, but he’s still charged with evading arrest and aggravated robbery in that case.

Police tell WREG they dust for prints at almost every crime scene, and this time, they got lucky because Applewhite didn’t think to wear gloves.

Even though he’s in jail, Johnson says her sense of security was stolen from her right along with her car.

"This scared me and I fear for my life," she said. "I’m really just, really upset. I don’t know how to feel really because it’s just scary."

And although it was a traumatizing experience, it's one Johnson says taught her an important lesson -- to always be aware of her surroundings no matter where she is.

"I’m gonna make sure I look around me before I get up out of my car and get into my car," she said.

WREG asked police if they’ve arrested the second suspect yet, but we haven’t gotten a response.

Applewhite’s next court date is set for the August 21, which also happens to be his 17th birthday.