St. Louis Reddit has given us so many gifts (and so much weirdness) over the years that its impossible not to love that warm corner of our local Web community. That pattern of excellence continued this weekend, when one Redditor not only delivered a tale of bona fide heroism but illustrated the action with Sharpie. If we're being honest, the post raised the bar on crime storytelling forever.
Authored by Reddit user tkizzler, the post, titled "Heroic escape from 2 gunman next to Sasha's on Shaw," recounts a tenacious getaway driver -- who goes by the name "Nissan Leaf owner/driver" -- who foiled the plans of two armed robbers early Friday morning in the Shaw neighborhood.
Update: See below for an interview with both the author of the Reddit post and the quick-thinking driver.
As the story goes, the post's author, his girlfriend, and Nissan Leaf Owner/Driver were visiting friends Thursday night in Shaw. As the pleasant evening of good company stretched into early Friday morning, the three bid their friends farewell and walked to the Nissan Leaf parked outside.
But after the three piled into the car, they noticed a dark Jeep Cherokee had pulled up and was blocking the street, preventing the driver from moving forward. The truck's passenger door opened and, according to the post, a young man emerged wearing a white construction dust mask. As the masked man walked toward the blocked Leaf, he raised and aimed a pistol at the windshield.
Things got worse. The driver of the Cherokee stepped out, also wearing a white construction dust mask, and he raised his own gun at the Leaf's windshield.
At this point, like any normal human being, our intrepid Redditor shouts, "Oh my God, he's got a gun!"
We'll let him take the story from here:
At this point, our friend who was driving put the car in reverse and floored it. We briefly were headed west on De Tonty and then instantly hung a quick left to go south in Thurman past Sasha's flooring it, all in reverse.
Once our driver committed to escaping, I ducked and yelled "Get down! Get down! Get down!" at least three times as I was worried my girlfriend in the back didn't see what was happening. However, she ended up seeing the most because she didn't duck right away as she was hyper focused on the suspects. Because her instincts were to not duck right away, she was the one who provided a lot of the details of this story. Eventually, something kicked in to her and she hit the floor by the time we were on Thurman.
The entire thing took 5-7 seconds from identifying the threat to being out of clear sight. During this time I was fully expecting bullets to fly in as the gunman had a clear shot, and looked willing and able to pull the trigger, but thankfully they never did.
But the story isn't over. Not content with merely increasing our blood pressure with the thought of hauling ass in reverse with two armed men staring at you, the post's author kindly included an illustration that, despite its crudeness, fully realizes the panic of the author, the determination of the Nissan Leaf Owner/Driver and the stunned focus of the girlfriend in the backseat.
The post's author also included a handy map that traces the route of the escape, as well as the relative positions of the vehicles.
And since this is Reddit, the comment section devolved into puns.
We've reached out to the Redditor in question, as well as to the St. Louis police to determine A) If the police have any leads on this masked bandits; and B) When Mayor Francis Slay is planning the grand parade for Nissan Leaf Owner/Driver. We'll update if we hear back.
In the meantime, you can read the full post here.
Update: Daily RFT got a hold of Tyler Kessler, the 29-year-old author of the post. We asked him why he went to such lengths to document the incident, and it turns out Kessler's family has a history with being victims of street crime.
"My mom got mugged when she was younger, and she lives with it every day," says Kessler, a software developer and founder of an app-reviewing website.
"I always told myself I wouldn't let some traumatic experience define me like that, so I thought I would just dump everything out. It was for my own psychological processing, so I just wanted to get it all out, process it and move on with on my life."
Kessler's initial post was all text -- written on an iPhone in one sitting -- but the reaction from Reddit and his friends motivated him to keep adding details, including the illustrations.
Retelling the story of the getaway also brought him in contact with other crime victims, who impressed on Kessler just how lucky he was to escape unharmed, let alone un-robbed.
"We've talked to so many people, ever people who were shot in a similar scenario," he says. "We spoke to one guy, he'd been held up three times, and one time he was shot in the hand."
The more robbery stories Kessler hears, the more he's thankful for the quick thinking of his friend at the wheel.
"He really saved our ass," he says.
Update, Wednesday: And who was that ass-saving wheel-man? It turns out to be Sean Ridley, a 33-year-old financial adviser with Morgan Stanley.
"For me, it was that sixth sense of knowing something wasn't right and just reacting," Ridley says. In fact, he claims he wasn't paying attention when the two men exited the truck and that he didn't see either pull a gun. Ridley says he simply reacted after Kessler began shouting from the passenger seat.
"I think if I had waited and actually seen the gun pointed at us, I probably would have stopped at that point because frankly I don't want to get shot," he says. "Looking back on the situation, I reacted because that's how my brain works."
Ridley credits a previous mugging in 2007 for his split-second reaction time and awareness. In that incident, Ridley says an armed man approached him in a California gas station and demanded his wallet.
"Ever since then, at all times and especially living her in St. Louis, I'm always on my toes, thinking 'What if something happens?'"
Continue for the St. Louis police's incident report of attempted robbery.
Update 8:30 a.m.: Here's the incident report, courtesy of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department:
Incident: Unlawful Use of Weapon Location: 4000 block of DeTonty St. Date/Time: 11/07/14 @ 0100
Victim #1: 29-year old white male
Victim #2: 28-year old white female
Victim #3: 33-year old white male
Suspect #1: Black male, 150 lbs, 5'9" tall, medium build, dark brown eyes, black hair in braids and wearing ribbed dusk mask over face
Suspect #2: Black male, 160 lbs, 6' tall, medium build, dark brown eyes, wearing ribbed dust mask over face
The victims were sitting in a parked vehicle, eastbound on DeTonty near Thurman, after visiting a friend. The victims were attempting to drive away when a dark colored Jeep Cherokee slowly drove past and then stopped in the middle of the street. Suspect #1 exited the passenger seat of the vehicle and walked towards the victim's vehicle pointing a gun in their direction. Suspect #2 also wearing a mask, exited the driver seat of the vehicle and approached the victim's vehicle armed with a gun. Victim #1, the driver, shifted the vehicle into reverse and sped away from the scene. After dropping off Victim's #2 and #3 at their homes, Victim #1 contacted police. No injuries were reported. The investigation is ongoing.