JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Police arrested a 44-year-old man suspected of trying to carjack a woman outside a gas station, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.
The attempted carjacking was reported Thursday night at the Circle K near Main Street and New Berlin Road.
The victim told officers that she walked out the door and was heading back to her car when she was confronted by a man, who asked her for a ride.
She replied, saying get away from me, and that's when the man -- later identified as Ted Thornton -- threatened her with a weapon that she thought was a knife, but turned out to be a screwdriver, according to the arrest report.
She said he then grabbed her arm and tried to take her car key.
But an off-duty federal law enforcement, who News4Jax has chosen not to identify for security reasons, heard the commotion.
"She was screaming, 'Get away from me. Get away from me,'" witness recounted Friday.
The federal law enforcement officer quickly ran over to help.
"She started yelling that he grabbed her and he was trying to steal her car," he said. "So I intervened and said, 'Stay still.' We called 911."
When police arrived, they said Thornton ran.
"I ended up on a foot pursuit on State Road 17 and the JSO officers and I ended up capturing him in front of the Bacardi distillery," the witness said. "Once we had him detained and JSO handcuffed him, we discovered that he had a weapon in his right hand pocket.”
News4Jax crime and safety analyst Gil Smith said the victim did the right thing.
“She’s very lucky. The main thing is she made some noise. She screamed. I’m always telling people when you’re in a situation like that, just make noise. One of two things will happen -- that person is going to get nervous and run away, or someone in the area may see something and get involved," Smith said.
In this case, the federal law enforcement officer got involved and helped take the suspect into custody.
That officer said Thornton denied trying to carjack the woman, and admitted that that he had just been released from prison.
Thornton was booked into the Duval County Jail.