‘Please let me live’: Virginia fire marshal robbed at gunpoint at gas station

National / World

PETERSBURG, Va. (WRIC) — A Virginia fire marshal was robbed at gunpoint Tuesday night at a gas station, and the encounter was caught on a surveillance camera.

Marlow Jones returned to the Petersburg gas station Wednesday, less than 24 hours after it happened, to describe what he calls a near-death experience.

“Just to think that today my family would have been planning my funeral,” Jones said, with emotion in his voice. “Over some nonsense. The last thing I said was, ‘Lord, please let me live.'”

Jones said he went out to get his mother some ice cream and decided to fill up his gas tank while he was out. He recalled pulling into the gas station at 9:30 p.m. Surveillance video shows Jones at the pump next to his black car. He said he was chatting with a friend when a white SUV pulled up to the pump next to him.

Jones said the female driver of the SUV got out of the vehicle to pump gas. A man on the passenger side also got out. Jones said the man gave him a “strange” look and was sizing up his car, which was new. Jones said the man then yelled profanity at him. Jones said he paid no mind and continued his conversation.

Video then shows the man charge at Jones with a gun pointed towards his head.

“My life flashed before my eyes,” Jones said. “I didn’t have time to move or react. I just took off running because I just knew that was the end.”

Jones darted across four lanes of oncoming traffic. He said he prayed he wouldn’t get hit by a car or bullet.

“Every step I took, I was anticipating the squeeze of that trigger,” Jones said. “I could feel the blood running before it even started running.”

Making it to a safe place, Jones said he looked across the street and saw the man rummaging through his car, but Jones had the keys with him, so it wasn’t stolen. The gunman stole two cell phones, Jones’ fire marshal badge and items from his glove box. Surveillance video shows the armed man walking away from Jones’ car and getting back into the SUV then the driver speeding away.

Just a few hours later, Petersburg police arrested 27-year-old Demarco Ford, of Petersburg. He’s charged with brandishing a firearm and grand larceny.

“You gotta ask yourself why,” Jones told 8News. “What’s your purpose to do this, man? Even if you would’ve gotten money or anything from me, how long would it have lasted? But you would have taken me away from my family, from my city, from everything. I don’t take that lightly.”

Jones contributed to the arrest, using his law enforcement background to do his own work. He used his cell phone’s “Where’s my phone” app from his home computer to track down its location. Jones drove there himself, noticed the car at the apartment complex, and called the police.

Petersburg police conducted interviews and recovered items from the scene.

Jones said after years serving the city, it’s hard to process. He was a Petersburg fire marshal for 19 years before becoming a state fire marshal. He also had a run for Petersburg City Council, volunteers at community events and has a BBQ business.

“We’re just regular people with or without the badge. As you can see, it can happen to anyone. Never let your guard down and keep your head on a swivel,” Jones advised. “Being at a gas station at night time is not the place to carry on a conversation. Just get your gas and go.”

Jones said he is usually legally armed at all times and the one night he stepped out without his registered firearm, he was confronted with violence. Nevertheless, he is thankful he didn’t have his weapon because he says anything could have happened and “8News could be telling a different story.”

“God had me the entire time,” Jones said.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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