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Detroit couple: Burglar cried, called mom, then gave up after cops came

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By Amy Lange
Fox 2 News


DETROIT (WJBK) -- An elderly couple was ambushed and held captive in their own home.  The suspect had a short standoff with Detroit Police.  They described for us a terrifying incident.

Mary Johnson Lawrence is a spry 87 years old married to her 85-year-old husband Charlie for 20 years.

Wednesday night, she honked her horn as she pulled into her driveway on Mendota as she always does to let Charlie know she's home from church.  He greeted her at the door as he always does, but she wasn't alone.

"I opened the door for her and she came in and he was right behind her," said Charlie Lawrence.  "(He) said, 'Get on the floor.  Get on the floor.'  (He) made her get on the floor."

The man wore a mask, said someone had sent him from the east side, waved a .357 Magnum in the air and asked their names.  They told him.  He led them down the stairs and wanted their ATM cards, but they don't have any.

Leaving Charlie in the basement, the gunman forced Mary up the stairs into her room where he wanted her jewelry.

"He took my pillowcase off the pillow and put the jewelry in there, and he asked me, 'Do you have any more?'  I said no," Mary Lawrence explained.

He dumped all the dresser drawers out just to make sure.  Back downstairs, he realized police were outside.  Turns out the neighbor across the street had been taking out his trash, saw the gunman run up on Mary and called 911.  Police knocked on the door.

"He said, 'Don't say anything, don't say anything and just keep your head down,'"  said Mary Lawrence.  "He said, 'Go tell them everything's all right in here.'  He said, 'Know that I'm here and I'll shoot you.'"

"'I'll shoot you in the head,' he said."

So she went to the door, said she was okay, but shook her head.  She wasn't.

The gunman went upstairs, removed the air conditioner, said he was going out the window, but saw the police were everywhere.  That's when the gunman realized he was done, removed his mask, helped Charlie up the basement stairs and then the gunman called his mother.

"(Mary) was on the phone with his mother," said Charlie Lawrence.

"She wanted to talk to me, said what could I do for her son," his wife explained.

"He started crying," her husband added.

He cried and cried, told Mary he was going away for life and asked for her forgiveness.

"We were sitting there talking and he said, 'I'm so sorry.  Can you forgive me?'  And that's when I told him, I said, 'As a Christian, I have to forgive you.  But, you know, it's a terrible thing you're doing.'"

Mary told him to turn himself in, which eventually he did.  After close to three hours she and Charlie were free.  Mary's blood pressure was through the roof, but they were okay thanks to an alert neighbor, who doesn't want accolades.  He just did the right thing.

"When you see something happen you call because just one telephone call doesn't hurt anyone," said Mary Lawrence.  "It saved our lives."

Police found the gun hidden under the skirt of a doll in Mary's dining room.

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