DEMOTTE — It was a typical day for Lisa Brown as she traveled north on County Road 1000 West in Jasper County. She had left work and had plans to visit a friend that afternoon. With St. Rd. 14 closed, she took 1000 West instead. On Tuesday, June 9, her world changed when she noticed a “black dot” behind her growing faster into a black Chevy Suburban coming up behind her at a high rate of speed. At first she thought it would catch up and go around her. But it didn’t.
Brown, thinking the person wasn’t paying attention and didn’t appear to be going around her, tapped her brakes. With a deep ditch to her right, she didn’t really have a way to get out of the faster vehicle’s path. The driver got right up close, tail gating her car, and she became afraid; afraid the person was going to force her into the ditch, and then her fear became terror when she heard a pop, saw a hole appear in her back window from her rearview mirror and saw the window shatter. She said she’d been shot at.
The SUV pulled up along side her. “I’m going to die,” she thought. “I was screaming in terror knowing I was going to die,” she said. She decided to duck down while still trying to see where she was going. She didn’t want to be an easy target for the shooter, nor did she want to end up in the ditch, making her an easier target.
Suddenly through her fear, she thought, “If I get run off the road or get shot and killed, no one will know what happened.” She realized she had slowed down as the Suburban was beside her, so she slowed even more to allow the SUV to pass completely so she could get the license plate and call 911 as quickly as she could.
Not knowing if her ordeal was over, she quickly called 911, chanting the license plate letters and numbers over and over again so she wouldn’t get it wrong. When the call was answered, she recalls shouting, “Write this down,” and chanting the number over and over in her hysteria.
The dispatcher calmly told her she had the information recorded and asked her to calm down so she could tell her what happened. The black SUV continued to go north, and Brown said she just needed a moment to collect herself and breathe before she could continue. As it drove away, she told the dispatcher what had happened and where.
She said she believes the driver kept going only because just ahead of them was a vehicle pulled off to the side of the road in the other direction with its flashers and the person who shot at her wouldn’t want a witness.
Still watching the SUV as it drove away, Brown continued to north as well. She wanted to head straight to her church, but it is in Newton County, so the dispatcher asked her to please stay in Jasper County to speak to police. Brown agreed to stop at one of the truck stops at St. Rd. 10 and I-65.
Once at the truck stop, she said she had to hang up from the 911 call. “I needed to call my pastor,” she said. Normally, dispatch wants a person to stay on the line until police arrive, but Brown said they knew where she was and she wasn’t leaving and she needed to hear her pastor’s voice.
“I called him first. I was sobbing and hyperventilating and I remember saying, ‘I need you now.’”
Then she needed to call her friend who was waiting for her to arrive. “I had just hung up with her before the incident,” Brown said.
Both quickly arrived to be with her while she recounted the incident for the sheriff’s deputies.
When she was able to calm down, Brown decided she needed to post her experience on social media. What concerned her was the remote area she was in and almost everywhere in the county is remote and rural. “It is everywhere I go. I’m in the middle of nowhere and a target,” she said.
She is supported by her strong faith and a support system of family, friends and church members. As the pastor prepared to head to the truck stop, Brown said, he sent out a group text to the church members to pray for her. She said she immediately had text messages and phone calls coming in with people offering to pray for her.
As she was trying to duck down in her car as the other driver was alongside her, she said she felt the Holy Spirit was with her at that moment, and that calmed her down enough to realize she needed to get the plate number.
“It seems very cliché, nonchalant, but there is a time when it resonates with you,” she said of the feeling of comfort she received at that moment. “I remember sobbing, ‘Thank you Lord for your protection.’ I’ve never felt that before.”
Brown heard later that the vehicle matching her description and the plates was stopped on 80/94 in Lake County and the driver was taken into custody for an offense in that county. At the time of this interview, she had not interviewed again with the sheriff’s office, although a deputy had called a couple times to check on her. She said he would be coming to interview her again soon when she could better recall all that had happened, and giving her time to recover.
“I truly believe it was a wildly random thing. I do not think I was specifically targeted for any reason. I just think I was in the right place at the wrong time for some lunatic to control a situation and invoke fear. And he did,” she wrote in her Facebook account of the incident.
A statement from the Jasper County Sheriff’s Office was posted on Facebook. “Jasper County Deputies met with the subject (Brown) and began their investigation. With the detailed description that the subject/victim provided the vehicle and driver were located by another police agency on 80/94 in Lake County. The driver was taken into custody for unrelated charges.
“This incident is still being investigated and we do not believe that there is any further danger to the public and that this was an isolated incident.”
The sheriff’s office did not confirm the incident involved a shooting or firearm.
Brown doesn’t know the identity of the person yet or the gender or color and to her, it doesn’t matter. “Race doesn’t matter. There are evil and violent people everywhere, but God gets the glory.”
The next day, knowing she couldn’t hide under the covers, she headed out to work. “That first morning was the hardest,” she said. Leaving early in the morning before daybreak, all she could see were headlights behind her or ahead of her and she had moments when panic started. “I kept calling out to God to calm my heart,” she said.
Then the sun began to rise and she saw a “brand new sharper image of God’s creation.”
“It was a beautiful drive,” she said.