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A man broke into my house and held me at gunpoint. He was never found and I still live with the trauma


Alex Hearn sitting on a bench in a park

Every decision feels like life or death in such a volatile situation (Picture: Alex Hearn)

Padding out of my bedroom, I headed towards the stairs to go to the kitchen to get a snack.

It was early evening, around 1990, and I was 15 years old. My sister was out and my dad hadn’t got back from work yet. It was just me and my mum home.  

Up until that moment, it had been a nice, normal night. Completely nondescript. But that was all about to change. Because waiting for me in the shadows near the top of the stairs was a well-built man wearing a balaclava. Holding a gun.

‘Come here and do what I tell you,’ he ordered, pulling my mum into view. Pointing the gun at her head, he made the situation crystal clear. ‘I have your mother.’

It is almost impossible to describe how the mind comes to terms with the shock of a nightmarish new reality interrupting everyday life.

I lived in the leafy London suburbs with my parents, sister and cats. Our home was the last place I expected to be ambushed by a gunman. That was the type of thing that happened in the movies.

As the shocking moment of realisation kicked in, I spent those split seconds trying to process the possibilities and their implications.

Every decision feels like life or death in such a volatile situation and you’re faced with stark alternatives.

Should we fight or cooperate? He seemed willing to hurt, even kill, us, but did he really plan to?

But one thing was apparent. Our lives were no longer in our own hands. Instead, they were precariously balanced, at the whim of an armed and faceless criminal.

We probably seemed like an easy target, where no-one else could hear us (Picture: Alex Hearn)

He demanded to know where the jewellery and valuables were.

But even after my mother showed him everything we had, he accused us of holding out on him. ‘Where’s the rest of it?’ he yelled. ‘Show me where you keep it!’

He was becoming increasingly agitated. It felt like something had to give.

As the threats grew, my mother shouted back at him. ‘There isn’t anything else, I’ve told you! That’s all we have!’

He led us into a large cupboard, where the washing machine was, and he shut us inside, explaining he would kill us if we left.

After a few minutes of listening at the door and a frantic whispered discussion, we made the decision to try to get out.

We gently opened the door, terrified that at any moment, we could get shot at close range. Then, when there was no sign of the armed robber, we ran to my dad’s office where the landline was.

My new reality was that I was no longer safe in my own home (Picture: Alex Hearn)

Thankfully, out of the window, we saw the man running away. Within seconds he was out of sight. The relief was staggering.

After calling 999, we sat in shock. Mum tried to call Dad at work but …read more

Source:: Metro

      

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