Authorities say three masked, armed men forced their way into a Bradenton home Saturday morning
5:47 PM, May 4, 2013
11:14 PM, May 4, 2013
BRADENTON, Fla - At 8-months-old baby Walter likes to squirm around and giggle.
At 2 a.m. Saturday Walter was sound asleep, something his mother is grateful for but not because she was in need of uninterrupted sleep.
"I woke up to sawed off shotgun that was placed like right here," said Crystal Stewart while pointing to her neck.
Stewart said she awoke to three armed, masked men standing over her bed. Walter was sleeping in his crib nearby.
"There was a man with a sawed of shotgun. There was a man with a pistol and there was a man with a butcher knife about two inches in width," she recalled.
According to Manatee County Sheriff's deputies, the three men forced their way in the back door of Stewart's home off 5th Street East in Bradenton. Not only did they make it through the locks but they also pushed aside a freezer full of food that was positioned in front of the door.
Stewart said she didn't recognize any of the men or their voices. She does remember that one of the men was wearing swimming goggles to mask his identity.
"I just knew I am going to do whatever this man says," Stewart said.
The three men demanded money, ripped Stewart's wedding ring off her finger and ransacked her house.
"They tore apart my house. Every drawer was dumped out," she said.
One of the men also nibbled on baloney he brought to the scene. Another one of the men even ate spaghetti out of the refrigerator during the robbery, Stewart recalled.
Their attention, however, soon turned to baby Walter.
"He was laying in his crib and they looked in his diaper," Stewart explained. She isn't sure why the men did this but believe they thought money could be hidden there. Luckily, the men quickly turned there attention away from the Walter who never awoke.
But, there attention became fixed on the room next door. That is where Stewart's sister Jen, 18, was in bed. Jen is 5 months pregnant.
"I was so scared because they put the gun to my head and my stomach," said Jen while rubbing her belly. I am like, 'Oh my God that was so scary.'"
Jen told ABC Action News she heard the men break in the back door. Then, through a tiny hole in her bedroom door she could see them walking through the house.
Fearing for her life, Jen picked up her cell phone and died 911 just as the men broke down her bedroom door.
" I was actually on the phone with 911 when he broke down the door and he took my phone while I was on the phone," Jen said.
Jen said she was first told to get on the ground and to lay on her stomach. After telling the men she was pregnant, they allowed her to sit on her bed.
She said the men kept demanding money only she didn't have any.
It was at that time, just a minute after Jen called 911, that flashing lights beamed through their front window. The police were at their front door and the bad guys took off the back door. Carrying electronics, including a television and laptops, along with $30 the men jumped a fence and got in to a waiting car.
During their getaway, the men dropped the television and other stolen items. Deputies said they also left their fingerprints on those items.
"I hope they got some Taco Bell with the $30 because you know what... they are not going to get none in prison and that is where they are going," Stewart said.
Stewart and her sister plan to move to a safer neighborhood. Until they can find a new home, they intend to start a neighborhood watch.