Last night, Ryan Ahrens showed up at the Davenport Apartments on the Dallas North Tollway to buy a Chevy pickup he'd seen advertised on Craigslist. He caught a ride there with a friend and the friend's young child, who was buckled into a car seat in the back, and he tucked the cash underneath the floor mat just to be on the safe side.
When they arrived at the complex, they drove around, unsuccessfully trying to find the woman who'd agreed to sell the truck. Finally, a man carrying what appeared to be a vehicle title appeared and, after confirming that Ahern was the truck buyer, got into the back seat next to the child so he could give directions to where the truck was parked.
Instead, the man pulled out a black .380 pistol and put it to the back of Ahren's head. "Where's the money?" he demanded, according to a police report.
Ahrens told him but, as he did, he pulled a knife. He attempted to stab the robber, who fought him off before jumping out of the car and ran off.
Police ran the phone number Ahrens had called to set up the deal, but it turned out it was a pre-paid Metro PCS phone with no registered user. The man who answered the number when we called this morning was cagey when asked if he was selling the truck, demanding to know who was asking. When told it was the Observer, he said that we had the wrong number and swore it was a land line, not a cell phone.
We hadn't asked what type of phone it was, but by that point it was too late to get more information; he had already hung up.
Update on Nov. 9: Ahrens called after the post ran to explain in a bit more detail what exactly went down.
He had responded to the Craigslist ad posted by someone going by the name Tashard Jackson. The initial plan was to meet at the Happy Meal-shaped McDonalds at LBJ and Montfort so Ahrens could take a look at the truck, but he went to the apartment complex after Pria, the woman he was talking to on the phone, said it was still there.
It was his wife who was driving and his 18-month old in the back seat. (The police report didn't specify their relationship). The man who eventually approached the car was a black 20-something, about 5'11", 170 pounds wearing shorts, a wind breaker and a beanie over short hair. He didn't ask to be shown to the car, he just hopped in the back seat and put a gun to Ahren's head, demanding money.
The robber couldn't find the cash and wouldn't let Ahrens reach for it. He ordered Ahrens to get out of the car and onto the ground and put the gun to his wife's head, and made her drive. Ahrens yelled for at several people who were standing nearby for help, but nothing happened.
He caught up with the car a short distance away, where the man was demanding his wife's purse. As he approached, the robber got out of the car and pointed the gun at Ahrens. Ahrens yelled at his wife to drive off and swung at the robber's neck with the knife he uses for construction work. "I missed that sucker by half an inch, or he'd be laying there dead," Ahrens said.
The effort sent both men to the ground. When Ahrens could stand, he took off running. The robber fled in the opposite direction.
Ahrens takes exception to the idea that he wasn't being sufficiently cautious. The woman on the phone had asked for his address so she could bring the car to him, but he'd nixed the idea. He'd gone to the apartment complex just to get a look at the car, and there were lots of people out. It wasn't as if he were driving into a dark alley.
He's tried to post warnings on Craigslist, but they've all been taken down. So, if someone's selling a truck from the apartments around Spring Valley and the Tollway, you may want to keep shopping.