(Photo: Lake City Police Department)
An armed robber interrupted a jewelry party in Lake City, Fla., on Friday but left empty-handed after the women in attendance began chanting the name "Jesus," according to police.
The suspect, who was later identified as 24-year-old Derick Lee, allegedly invaded the home of Jacquie Hagler during a Premiere Jewelry party attended by between 14 and 18 people (there are conflicting accounts between News4Jax.com, local police and Hagler about the exact number).
While wearing all dark-colored clothing, including a bandana to cover his face and a ski cap on his head, Lee allegedly entered the room where the party was occurring, pointed a handgun at the women and told them to give him their money and phones.
Thinking it was a practical joke and a part of the party, one of the women pushed the gun away and said, "It's only a water pistol." Lee then yelled at them, telling them he was going to shoot somebody and that it wasn't a joke. The women took him seriously after he showed some of them the bullets that were already loaded in the gun, Hagler told The Christian Post on Monday.
"The boldness of the Lord came up in me," said Hagler. "I stood up and I just pointed to the door that he'd came in from. I said, 'Get out of my house in the name of Jesus.'"
He threatened them again, and she told him to leave once more before the rest of the women in the room began to repeatedly shout the name "Jesus." Lee briefly looked around the room while they shouted, though Hagler says he did not appear to be looking directly at any of the women.
"I promise you, I believe he saw angels. I think he saw who was on our side, and he just turned around. The look on his face was just, like, astonishment. He was totally captivated by whatever he saw. He just turned around and ran out the door," she said.
Based on the description of the man provided by the women, Lake City police officials came up with two possible suspects living in the immediate area. Several of the women identified Lee in a photo lineup as the man who had threatened them.
Lee is also a suspect in a separate robbery attempt that occurred while police were investigating the home invasion later that evening. A 62-year-old woman said a man dressed in all dark-colored clothing, including a ski cap and bandana, pointed a gun at her and tried to rob her after she used a walk-up ATM. She yelled at the man, however, and he fled on foot.
Officers arrested Lee just a few hours after the incident at Hagler's home. He was booked at the Columbia County Detention Center on a $200,000 bond for home invasion robbery.
"We're just praising God that He's getting all this glory, and that Jesus' name really, it has authority," said Hagler. "And He says His Word is true and He says He'll be there for you in [the] time of trouble. When you call on Him, He'll be there."