Avon firefighter carjacked, one suspect still at large

Police pursued this white Hummer to the Berkeley Commons Apartments Thursday morning. (WTHR image by John Kofodimos)
Firefighter carjacked at gunpoint
Firefighter carjacked at gunpoint

INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) - An Avon firefighter got the surprise of his life after stopping at a gas station in Clermont, Indiana.

"I think I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time," said Jeff Petri about being carjacked at gunpoint.

Given the nature of his job alone, the Avon firefighter has been in some dangerous situations. But nothing compares to getting carjacked and having a gun in your face.

While on his way to the fire station, Petri noticed his low fuel light come on in his 2008 Hummer. He was near the Speedway gas station in Clermont, so he pulled up to the pump to fill up the tank. That is where two men surprised him at the gas pump while pointing guns at him.

"They both had their guns drawn the second they came around, very aggressive, demanding the keys, using bad language, so I immediately put my hands up and WHOA!" said Petri.

During the confrontation Petri believes cooperating with his attackers demands kept him from getting shot. Especially when he realized they wanted Hummer no matter what.

"He said 'where are the keys?' And I said, 'They are in it. Take it.'"

Petri nicknamed his SUV Hummer "Pearl" because of the paint color. He has invested a lot of money into the SUV to keep it running well.

Police believe a surveillance camera photo from a hotel robbery in Seymour shows the same carjackers.

There is also video from interstate cameras that shows the suspects in the Hummer trying to get away from police at very high speeds. During the pursuit, sparks flew from the wheels after officers used stop sticks.

Eventually the men crashed which allowed police to arrest two of the three carjacking suspects. Police considered them extremely dangerous since they also learned that during the carjacking they waived their guns at other gas station customers who witnessed their crime.

"I have never had someone literally look me in the eye, point a gun at me and threaten me with it," said Petri.

Now the firefighter wants others to know what to do in a life threatening situation. His advice includes remembering that material things can be replaced but your life cannot.

"Don't do anything to instigate them. Don't incite them in any kind of way. Just back up, non-threatening, you know. Hands up," said Petri. "I didn't want them to think that I was going for any kind of weapon."

Petri used his girlfriend’s car to drive to the crash scene to get a look at his Hummer. He has not slept much since the carjacking. His rest will come easier once the third suspect is in custody.

Anyone with information that could help the case can call Crime Stoppers at 317-262-TIPS. All calls to the tip line are 100% confidential.

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