MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - A Montgomery woman suffered broken bones when she came face to face with an armed robber in her driveway. The gunman, pretending to need help, confronted her as she was getting out of her car. Then, he yanked her purse from her shoulder, leaving her injured on the concrete as he took off running.
The victim's husband wants to spread awareness about the violent encounter so others will take precautions.
Jeffery Solomon is a retired Montgomery police detective who worked every kind of criminal case over the course of his career in law enforcement. But danger hit close to home Tuesday night when his wife was targeted right in front of their home of 18 years on Hanston Place in the Deer Creek subdivision.
"She's very shaken and upset because of it and injured because of it," he said.
Solomon retired from the Montgomery Police Department after 25 years, 18 of which he spent was a detective. He now works as a community corrections officer for Montgomery County.
He was attending a conference Tuesday and missed dinner with his wife and their Sunday school class at a local eatery. Around 8 p.m., he looked out the front window to see if she was home and when he didn't see her car, he went to another part of their house.
When he came back into the living room at 8:15 pm, he heard screaming outside and found his wife on the ground in their driveway.
"I thought she had fallen, to begin with, but when I talked to her, I learned that she had been robbed at gunpoint out in front of the house," Solomon said. "There's a street light in front of the driveway and it blocked her view, but she did say it was a young, tall black male that was in shorts and armed with a revolver."
Solomon went inside and got a weapon and called 911 and waited for officers and paramedics to arrive.
"My wife said that he ran down towards a cul-de-sac area in our neighborhood. By the time I got out there, I did not see the individual," Solomon explained.
His wife was taken to the hospital and learned she has a broken left shoulder and fractured finger on her right hand. She is in a lot of pain after her ordeal and will have to see an orthopedic surgeon.
"He wanted to use a phone and she told him that she couldn't let him use a phone and at that time, he pointed a revolver at her with one hand and took the other one and snatched down on the purse, snatched her to the ground, and snatched the purse off of her," Solomon said in regards to how the scary incident played out.
Two other people were robbed while getting out of their cars in East Montgomery over the past several days.
Montgomery police indicate the crimes happened on Sept. 25 in the 8600 block of Crosswind Circle and on Sept. 27th in the 200 block of Sylvest Drive off of Atlanta Highway, the same night Jeff Solomon's wife was robbed.
"As the investigations continue, MPD is working to determine if the three incidents may be connected. No arrests have been made at this point. MPD advises residents to be aware of their surroundings, especially when exiting a vehicle, and to immediately report any suspicious individual or activity," said Lt. Denise Barnes, spokeswoman for the Montgomery Police Department.
On Sept. 26 around 9:30 p.m officers also responded to the 7600 block of EastChase Parkway after a carjacking. A woman was sitting in her car when she was approached by two men. At gunpoint, she was forced out of the vehicle and the suspects drove off in it. The victim received minor injuries. No one is in custody. The case remains under investigation. There are several hotels located in the block number provided by police, but officials did not name a specific location of the crime.
Police don't know yet if any of the robberies in East Montgomery are at all tied to a series of home break-ins that have occurred in recent weeks in neighborhoods along Vaughn Road.
Another woman was carjacked last week as she was placing her order at a fast food restaurant on Ann Street. The suspects were seen in surveillance footage laughing on the other side of the restaurant as they planned to rob someone in the drive-thru.
Two weeks ago, a Millbrook couple was robbed at gunpoint by a masked man in their driveway who drove off in their car. Police said it was possible they were followed home from a nearby store. The victims said their car was then used in another robbery in Montgomery.
Montgomery County District Attorney Daryl Bailey called the crimes "alarming" and says the environment created by new sentencing laws allows violent offenders to be placed on work release or paroled faster and back on the streets to commit other crimes, many of them repeat offenders.
"These individuals are using firearms and causing potential injury to citizens of Montgomery. We have to send a very clear from law enforcement and from this office that it's not going to be tolerated,' he said. "I'm calling on judges to issue tough sentences when these individuals are prosecuted and convicted. I'm calling on our lawmakers to toughen laws with violent offenders. They have really loosened things with prison reform, making sentences lighter and paroling them earlier. It has to stop."
Over the past few years, Bailey says the Alabama Legislature and Department of Corrections have been a "huge threat to public safety" with sentencing reform and budget cuts that have resulted in fewer police officers and deputies on the streets and fewer prosecutors in the courtroom to handle cases.
"The criminals know that nothing is going to happen to them. They know that when they're convicted of a robbery, that they can be out in just a couple of years and that's absolutely ridiculous. They've put a gun to someone's head and taken their property, maybe pistol-whipped them and we're letting them back out into the community in just a short period of time,' he added.
Back on Hanston Place in Deer Creek, Jeff Solomon's wife continues to recover. He is urging others who live in the area to be alert.
"They should be vigilant about what happened. And hopefully somebody knows something that can help solve these crimes," Solomon said. "I'm hoping that the police can stop this because somebody is going to get injured or killed because of it. They are working on it at this time."