Exclusive: 93-year-old victim speaks about kidnapping, robbery

Authorities arrest suspect
Posted at 11:18 PM, Aug 30, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-01 23:42:25-04

Authorities have arrested a man who kidnapped a 93-year-old and robbed him around 9 p.m. on August 18.

21-year-old Jerry Lee Callahan Fields,  who has been out of prison for less than two months, was arrested Friday, September 1 just after 11 a.m. in Highway Park.

The victim spoke exclusively with ABC Action News. Hank Kowalski said Fields would not let him for more than an hour and threatened to kill him if he went to authorities.

The victim said that night he heard rattling at the door and he thought it was one of his neighbors so he opened it.

"There he stood with a gun and he says get back in the house," he described.

He said Fields demanded money.

“I said what money? I have no money," the victim said.

The 93-year-old said he tossed whatever money he had on him. That's when he said Fields noticed a bank statement so he forced the victim into his own car.

“We went out the door and I’m 93 years old, thinking that I can run to my neighbor so as we got to the end of my car, and we turned, I started to run. I took 3 steps and he knocked me down," he said.

Then Fields shoved him in the back seat. The victim was bleeding. Fields took him to ATM's, but authorities said he was not successful getting any money out.

“I could only see what was going by the window," he said.

The 93-year-old did not know where Fields was taking him next, but he was afraid he was going to die.

“I said to God that I was sorry for all my sins and for (him) to forgive me please and I give myself up to him," the man said.

The 93-year-old said Fields eventually took him back home. He told ABC Action News he wanted to warn other people his age to protect themselves.

"People should put an extra lock on their door that only can be opened from the inside. A bolt or a chain or something like that," he said.

Highlands County Sheriff's deputies said Fields was identified by a tip following publication of pictures taken by an ATM camera that showed distinctive tattoos on the forearms of the suspect. Those tattoos matched ones on Fields.

Kowalski said he can sleep tonight for the first time since the crime happened.

"I told the reporter, this is one night that I will sleep very, very well," he said. 

Kowalski also told ABC Action News he felt sad Fields may never get out. Kowalski is an Air Force Vet. He said he has lived a long life and that he was hopeful Fields would still be able to turn his life around at his young age.

"Like I said, he's a life that would be thrown away," he said.

Fields is facing charges of armed burglary, armed robbery, kidnapping, carjacking, aggravated abuse of an elderly person with a firearm, exploitation of an elderly person and possession of a firearm by a habitual violent offender.