UofM student fights off attempted carjacker outside Midtown apartment

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- A young University of Memphis student has a warning for other women after a man attacked and tried to carjack her outside her Midtown apartment.

Police say it happened around 5 p.m. Thursday on Hawthorne Street, but the 24-year-old grad student fought back and managed to scare him off.

“I was like, ‘I’m not gonna let him do that,'" she said.

She doesn’t want her identity revealed, but says she never expected to have to fend off an attempted carjacker in broad daylight.

“We’ve never had any sort of issue like this. I’ve never been scared to get out of my car," she said.

She was coming home from class when she says a young man walked up to her, mumbling something, and tried to hand her a slip of paper. She told police she thought that maybe he was going to ask her for a donation.

“And I tried to look at the paper, and as I went to like kind of turn and look, he snatched my keys right out of my hand and took off for my car," she said.

But instead of letting him get away with her old, beat-up Kia Sportage, she made the split-second decision to fight back, telling WREG it wasn't about the car.

“I had my phone in my hand, which I think is probably worth more than my car," she said. “It’s not a car worth fighting for. But I think I wasn’t fighting for the car, I was fighting more for me.”

Rather than fear, she says she got angry.

“I always try to be nice and to help people and I didn’t like being viewed as an easy target because of that kindness, and I didn’t want that used against me," she said.

She says she chased him, hitting him and screaming for help.

“He said he had a gun and he would shoot, but I didn’t think that he would," she said. "So, I just screamed louder, and thankfully the unlock button on my fob is broken so he had use the key to get in, so it took him a minute.”

She never saw a gun, and used iPhone's Siri function to call 911.

“And for whatever reason – ‘cause this never happens – my entire steering column locked up and he couldn’t get the car started at all," she said.

That’s when she says the man got out and attacked her.

“He grabbed me by the throat and like choked and then hit and threw me to the ground and took off running," she said.

The lesson she hopes other women will take from her experience is to expect the best, but always be prepared for the worst.

“Don’t be afraid to be kind, but be aware of your surroundings and know who’s around you," she said.

She adds that it will probably be quite some time before she feels comfortable talking to a stranger again.

“I’m a pretty aware person, so I knew that he was coming but he didn’t seem like a threat at all," she said. "And so, it is shocking and it’s scary.”

Police still haven’t caught the suspect and only have a vague description. They’re hoping nearby surveillance cameras captured something.

If you know anything that could help investigators, call Crime Stoppers at (901) 528-CASH.

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