Lake City, Florida – A gun-wielding burglar who recently attempted to rob over a dozen women attending a residential jewelry party is behind bars after he fled the scene when the women ordered him out in the name of Jesus.
The incident happened last Friday when homeowner Jacquie Hagler had fourteen friends over for the party. Derek Lee, 24, who was wearing a ski cap and a bandana, entered the home with a gun and demanded that the women hand over their money and phones.
At first, the women thought the incident was some sort of joke. One of the attendees reportedly pushed Lee’s hand away, laughing.
“It’s only a water gun,” she said.
“I’m not joking,” Lee replied, pointing the gun to the woman’s head. “I’m going to shoot someone. Give me your money.”
At this point, Hagler, a born-again Christian, understood that the situation was indeed real. Some reports state that Lee even showed the women the bullets in his gun to prove that the robbery was not a prank.
“When I realized what was going on, I stood up and said, ‘In the name of Jesus, get out of my house now!’” Hagler told local television station WJXT-TV. “And he said [again], ‘I’m going to shoot someone.’”
“I said it again real boldly,” she continued. “Everybody started chanting, ‘Jesus! Jesus! Jesus!’”
Lee was stunned.
“The look on his face was just astonishment. He was totally captivated by whatever he saw,” Hagler explained. “[H]e did a quick scan of the room, and ran out the door as fast as he could go.”
One of the women said that she slipped into another room while the situation was taking place and was about to call 911.
“As I was backing out, that’s when I heard Jacquie say, ‘Get out of my house in the name of Jesus!’” explained jeweler Afton Brown. “I just heard all the ladies chanting and screaming, ‘Jesus! Jesus! Get out in the name of Jesus!’”
Police state that the women later identified the burglar in a photo lineup that night, who was then taken into custody. He is also suspected in another attempted robbery that occurred that same evening at an ATM machine.
Lee was booked and charged at the Columbia County Detention Center for home invasion robbery, and is being held on $200,000 bond.
The women state that their prayer is for the situation to have an impact on Lee.
“Hopefully he’ll get the message, and hopefully it’s a story that can be turned into good one day,” Brown said. “And hopefully he’ll have a testimony.”
“I have forgiven him and [have] prayed for his salvation,” Hagler stated. “I’m hoping this situation has led him to trust the Lord and turn his life around.”