Going shopping is difficult enough in these times because in many places, masks are required or strongly suggested. Wearing a mask is not that great of an inconvenience, but it does highlight the fact that life is not as carefree as it used to be for many.
But there are worse things people can experience while out shopping, and Roicia Banks ran into one of those “worse things” in the form of an unhinged member of society.
Banks had planned on going to Barnes & Noble at the Tempe Marketplace in Tempe, Arizona, on June 19 to meet up with one of her clients. Minutes after arriving, the meeting was moved to another location, according to her video account, and Banks returned to her car.
As soon as she opened the car door, Banks said things started to go very wrong.
“I hear the car in front of me turn on and honk again,” she told KNXV-TV. At first, she thought maybe the commotion was being caused by an acquaintance.
“And, I’m like ‘OK it’s this person right here. Maybe they recognize me. Maybe it’s somebody I know.'”
But then, she said, the woman in that car, who was parked diagonally across from Banks, drove straight through the parking spot next to Banks and nearly hit her instead of backing out the other way.
“I had my door open and at that time, I kind of lunged myself in the door to protect myself,” Banks explained. “As a social worker, my first kind of initial response was maybe she’s unwell, she’s unstable.”
That was a disconcerting enough interaction, but the driver wasn’t done yet. Banks said the woman quickly drove back around to the same spot and got out of her car.
“I’m yelling ‘You almost hit me. What is wrong with you?’ I pointed at my car, and I’m walking toward her at this point,” Banks said.
With that, the woman allegedly took out a gun and aimed it straight at Banks.
“I’m looking dead in her eyes, and I know she was going to shoot me,” Banks said. “I’m looking down the barrel of a gun. At this point, kind of accepting ‘OK God, I’m ready.'”
Thankfully, someone else saw the scene unfolding and raced over to protect Banks. John Brewer from Prescott Valley had been in his car a few spaces down, and he reportedly leapt into action, calling the whole interaction”shocking.”
“I’m yelling at her, like, trying to get her attention from harassing this young woman who was doing nothing,” Brewer said.
Banks said Brewer then stepped between the woman and the gun aimed at Banks.
“She may have been three feet, and taunted me with this gun in my face,” Banks said in her Facebook video, “and the white man, who by God, by God alone, was in the right place at the right time, ran — ran and put his body in front of me.”
“If God did not put that man in that moment, in that space, in that time, I would be dead.”
“In that moment, I can honestly say, I didn’t feel any fear,” Brewer told KNXV-TV. “Things were crystal clear. There was one thing I had to do, and it was step in front of and protect this woman.”
Eventually, the woman with the gun left, and many people — including Banks, who is black-indigenous — believe the incident may have been racially motivated.
“I did not feel it was racially motivated until the escalation of the issue, so quickly,” she explained. “But, the facts are that she had a weapon. She pulled it out on me. She circled back around to taunt and threaten me. And, I know it was racially motivated because it was de-escalated by a white ally.”
“It was a clear example of life or death. That if you see something, you have to do something, you have to act in that moment.”
In Banks’ video description, she said “the vehicle we know was a green (maybe) Ford Explorer maybe early 2000s with ‘BSA- – -‘ plates. A white 70 plus woman with all white hair and a very short haircut. That’s all we know.”
According to an update shared by Banks, the suspect has not yet been identified, but video surveillance from nearby businesses is being requested.
“Police have yet to find the woman who was behind the weapon,” the update said. “Barnes and Noble and Verizon have been asked to release security footage and are waiting for a reply from the corporate entities.”
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