By Meghan Hendrickson
After almost having his car stolen from his home last week, one George W. Truett Theological Seminary professor said he thinks Baylor students should realize something like this could happen to them and consider how they would respond.
Dr. Todd Still, Truett professor of Christian Scriptures, said around 5:40 a.m. on April 9, he was getting into his son’s truck to go for a routine run at a local health club because his own car was in the shop.
Still said he was backing out of his driveway when he sensed something strange, and his peripheral vision caught a glimpse of a middle-aged woman in jeans and a hoodie walking and talking on her cell phone.
“I think, ‘Oh my, I think I’m about to pull in front of a neighborhood walker,’” Still said.
He stopped his truck and waited for her to walk past, but she did not. Still said he then continued to back the truck out of the driveway when the woman walked directly in front of the truck.
“At this point, I do stop, and I want her to sense that I’m not moving and I’m watching her,” Still said. “So she turns around and makes eye contact with me, and she comes to my vehicle.”
Still said he was then going to roll down his window and ask her what she wanted and what she was doing, but instead the woman opened the back passenger’s door, got in the truck and closed the door.
“Excuse me, but what is it that you’re doing?” Still said he asked the woman.
She replied she was going to ‘jack’ his truck, Still said.
“No, you’re not,” Still said as he put his car in park, shut off the ignition, removed the car key and headed back inside his home to call the police.
“So I go in, and now my heart’s beating out of my chest, so I’m not sprinting, but I’m jogging inside,” Still said. “I’m opening the door, I’m calling 911, I’m explaining what has happened. I then walk outside, and even while I’m talking, the police squadron cars arrive within two or three minutes’ time, and she’s still in the truck.”
Still said the woman got out of the car and was arrested.
She was charged with robbery and released from the McLennan County Jail on $5,000 bond April 9.
Still said the situation was a mysterious one and was “not the time to offer pastoral care.”
Still said when the officer on the scene asked if he was scared, he replied he was, but felt embarrassed because in retrospect, the woman seemed “unintimidating.”
Sgt. Patrick Swanton of the Waco Police Department said he was out of town when the incident took place, but Still responded exactly as he should have.
“So many times, you don’t know what the [criminal’s] intentions are,” Swanton said. “The best thing to do is to put distance between you and them, contact 911 and let the police deal with it.”
Sometimes students hesitate to call the police because they do not want to involve law enforcement, Swanton said.
“That’s silly,” Swanton said. “We absolutely need those phone calls because we can’t help if we’re not notified.”
Swanton said the police would rather come out to the scene and discover it is nothing than not get a call when someone gets assaulted or robbed. Baylor students should pay attention to their surroundings and acknowledge their “sixth sense,” he added.
“Anytime that you are approaching your car — male or female — you should always be aware of your surroundings, know what’s going on around your car, look under your car, look in the back seat and make sure no one’s hiding under your car,” Swanton said. “If something doesn’t look quite right or feel quite right, chances are, there’s something wrong.”
After the local news station KWTX covered the story on April 10 and posted a video of Still reenacting the incident online, Still said it went viral on Facebook and Twitter within the Truett community.
That’s where Ben Winder, a third-year Truett student, heard about it.
“I’ll be honest, when I first saw the video, I laughed at the absurdity of his re-enactment,” Winder said. “I’m glad that [Still] was safe and he wasn’t hurt, because things could have been a lot worse.”
Winder said after watching the video numerous times and sharing it with friends both in person and via social media, he ran into Still at Truett and was able to speak with him about it on a personal note.
Since the incident and the spread of the video on social media, Truett students and faculty members have poked fun at the situation, Still said.
Dr. Joel Weaver, senior lecturer in biblical languages at Truett, joked about the incident during Truett’s chapel service a week afterward, Still said.
On Still’s door, people have also taped print-outs of still shots from movies and television shows with comical phrases referencing the incident super-imposed on them.
“It’s kind of been a funny event for Truett, and it really has been a community event,” Winder said.
Tyson Heaton, a second-year Truett student, said when he first heard about what happened he thought it was bizarre.
Heaton said the incident would not have been funny if anything major had happened, but because it happened to Still — “the nicest and sweetest man ever” — and because of Still’s response, Heaton found it to be quite comical.
“My first thought was, ‘oh my gosh,’” Heaton said. “But he’s the nicest person in the world so it just seemed extra evil, if that’s possible.”