Fayetteville, N.C. — A Fayetteville real estate agent says he didn't think he'd live to see his family again after an ordeal in which he was restrained in handcuffs and robbed at gunpoint while showing a house.
"It’s terrifying," the agent – who did not want to be identified because he fears for his safety – said Monday. "You leave your home, just like you do every morning, you kiss you family goodbye, and you’re eating lunch – just things you do."
It happened just after 1 p.m. Thursday when, the 46-year-old victim says, he was holding an open house in the new Knolls on Cliffdale subdivision in west Fayetteville – a neighborhood off Cliffdale Road where most of the houses are vacant or under construction.
A man in his 30s showed up at an open house and started a conversation with the real estate agent.
"We talked about buying a house for about 10 or 15 minutes," the agent said. "Not once was I aware of the fact that he wanted to do anything but buy a house."
That changed, however, when the agent started showing the man cellphone photos of other houses.
"He spoke some words to me that were unusual, and when I looked up, he had a 9 mm facing my forehead," the agent said.
The gunman, the agent says, escorted him around the house, took his keys, wallet, cash and credit cards. The robber even pressed the agent about the credit cards.
"He was actually bold enough to take the time out to call (the credit card companies) to verify whether or not there was anything on them," the agent said.
At first, the agent says, the gunman bound his hands with plastic ties. When the agent was able to pop them off, the gunman pulled out metal handcuffs and told the victim to put them on.
Eventually, the gunman locked the agent in a bathroom.
The agent says he feared for his life and had no reason to think the gunman wasn't going to kill him.
"I already accepted that," the agent said.
After the gunman fled, the agent managed to kick open a bathroom door and walk outside, where he sought help from three workers who had arrived to install a cable line.
"He's a professional or well trained," the agent said of the robber. "My personal opinion is, I don't think this was his first time."
The victim says he's now reconsidering open houses. Still, he says, the encounter won't scare him from the job he's enjoyed for eight years.
"We can't let people like this keep us from going about our daily ordeals and taking care of our families, but it should bring a great deal of awareness to your surroundings," the agent said.
He also says he's confident that his company will look at ways to improve the safety of its agents working in open houses.
"It’s a terrible experience, and I just hope we can collectively come up with a way to provide a little more safety for our agents," the agent said.
Police don't have a detailed description of the robber but say he was seen leaving the area in a white Dodge Caravan.
Anyone with information is urged to call the Fayetteville Police Department at 910-433-1856 or Crime Stoppers at 910-483- 8477.