A Queenstown woman has spoken of her terror at being robbed at gunpoint while holidaying in the United States.
Fleur Douglas, 28, and her friend Luke Marlow, 32, were attacked by two men while walking through a wealthy San Francisco suburb.
Douglas, there on a month’s holiday, was grabbed violently by one assailant and Marlow was pistol-whipped on the back of the head by the other.
Douglas says: “It was so violent and shocking. Two guys came out of a side street wearing black hoodies, with the hoods up.
“One grabbed me around the waist really violently – I had finger bruises.
“Luke wouldn’t give up his backpack, so the other pulled a silver handgun. He hit Luke over the head – it was so hard and loud, just a crack.”
The friends, from Queenstown and Wellington, had $US700 stolen, plus credit cards, phones, a camera,
Marlow’s passport, drivers’ licences and an iPod.
Marlow’s head was swollen and bruised after the attack, but he did not go to hospital.
Douglas says: “I saw the butt and thought two things at once really – ‘what the hell is that?’ and ‘oh my God that’s a gun’. It made the situation very different, very scary. Altogether it was over in about 20 seconds – so fast.”
Both men, about 1.8m and solidly built, ran off to a waiting car.
The attack happened about 9pm earlier this month in upmarket Berkeley, just hours after they landed in the US.
Their hotel concierge called the police.
“The police were incredible. We weren’t hysterical, neither of us were crying, we were just in shock.
“They calmed us down and told us a group had been going into rich suburbs where people have money and are not on edge, easy targets.”
Two other such robberies happened that night and several in the weeks before.
Douglas, a Universal Pictures account manager who lives in Auckland, is astonished by many Americans’ reactions to their ordeal.
“They’re just saying you should have a gun. That’s horrific. It speaks to their culture. They think it’s normal to carry and safe. I’m not sure a change in the law would fix anything
“It couldn’t have ended better really. If one of us had a gun somebody would have got shot.”
Parents Mark and Brenda Douglas, long-time Queenstowners, had watched Michael Moore’s US gun culture documentary Bowling for Columbine the night before the attack.
Fleur says: “We’re way more aware of our surroundings than we’ve ever been before.
“For the first few days I would jump if somebody came up behind me. The walk back to the hotel was probably
the scariest of my life.”