(MCT) — Pamela Ball bit the hand that was trying to force her into the trunk of her car, but she doesn't believe that's what saved her.
Ball credits the dozen neighbors who heard her screams in the alley behind her Andersonville home and chased away the two men who had just robbed a jewelry store after tying up the clerk and were planning to get away in Ball's car Monday afternoon.
“There were 12 neighbors in the alley with cell phones,’’ said Ball, in her early 60s. “One neighbor even chased them and one neighbor grabbed me.’’
Police swarmed the 5500 block of North Wayne Avenue after neighbors called in a description and arrested the two men. They were charged, along with a woman, with robbing the Bryn Mawr Jewelry Co. store, 1125 W. Bryn Mawr Ave., just blocks away.
“They ran those guys down,’’ said Ball, who works as a real estate agent and has lived in the neighborhood for 40 years. "I think they were trying to kill me."
Ball said she had returned to her home just before 3 p.m. Monday after shopping and had opened the trunk of her car when she spotted two men inside her garage, one of them armed with a gun.
"The minute I saw them in my garage, I ran for the door," Ball said. “The robber (with the gun) made eye contact with me and I ran.
“I ran for the side door and before I could open the door, they were on me,’’ she said. "One of them turned me around and said, 'Give me your purse.' "
The man pulled out his gun and Ball said she tossed her handbag to the corner of the garage. He then demanded her car keys.
As Ball struggled to get at her keys in her pocket, the men began struggling with her and one of them punched her in the face and told her, "Get in the trunk," according to Ball.
"I said no and started screaming," Ball said. "I must have been awfully loud because a neighbor two houses away heard me."
As she screamed, one of the men put a hand over her mouth to silence her.
"I only stopped screaming long enough to bite him," she said.
Within seconds, people up and down the block had come to her aid. "I have neighbors that my mother went to high school with," Ball said.
"I’m actually feeling pretty good, I’m just tired," Ball said a day after the attack. "I’ve got bruises and I’m a little swollen. My blouse was ripped and my shoulder is sore.”
Armed robbery charges have been filed against Felice DeSilva, 29, Paolo Brown, 30, and Paris Starwalt, 23. Police say they tied up a store work and threatened another before running off with diamonds.
DeSilva lives in the 2600 block of West Chicago Avenue, Brown in the 2200 block of North Mobile Avenue and Starwalt in the 2100 block of Prairie Avenue in downstate Mattoon. They are expected to appear before a judge later today, police said.