Two South Jersey sisters are being hailed as heroes after police say they helped prevent what could have been a murder-suicide in West Virginia.
Marilyn Gibbs and Juanita Rodgers of Pennsauken, NJ say they were driving to Kentucky on Thursday to visit a loved one. They stopped at a rest stop area along I-79 in Bridgeport, West Virginia around 2:30 a.m.
As Rodgers slept, Gibbs says she suddenly heard a woman screaming inside a vehicle two cars ahead of her. According to Gibbs, the woman was screaming “don’t shoot me.”
“I turned the camera on first,” Gibbs said. “Then I thought, ‘oh my God, people do this all the time.’ They videotape stuff and nobody calls the cops.”
Gibbs says she then called police, waking up her sister in the process.
“It was very frightening,” Rodgers said. “I mean I was asleep and I woke up hearing my sister on the phone.”
Gibbs’ camera continued to record as she spoke with responding officers.
“There’s a silver car,” Gibbs said in the 911 call. “I’m hearing a lady begging somebody named Justin, ‘please, don’t shoot us.’”
Both sisters say they didn’t even know their exact location at the time.
“I was in a panic because I’m thinking somebody is getting ready to shoot someone,” Gibbs said. “And I don’t know where I’m at.”
West Virginia Police were able to figure out where the sisters were however and quickly arrived at the scene.
“By the time I got in the front seat I could see police were there,” Rodgers said.
The responding officers safely removed the woman from the suspect’s vehicle. Investigators say the officers then repeatedly ordered the suspect to drop his weapon. The suspect allegedly refused and raised his weapon towards the officers, prompting one officer to fire one round. The 23-year-old suspect was struck in the upper torso and was taken to a nearby hospital, where he remains in critical condition.
Gibbs’ camera recorded the entire incident. West Virginia Police didn’t even know about Gibbs’ video until they reached out to Pennsauken detectives.
“The videotape is going to help the prosecution in the case,” said Pennsauken Police Detective Phil Olivo. “So it’s a good thing they were there.”