Couple: OnStar foiled robbery, saved lives

May 17, 2010 4:43:36 AM PDT
A Chicago man is in custody after a couple was robbed at gunpoint inside their South Side home.Police say the suspect, Jerrell Arterberry, then forced the pair to drive to a nearby Currency Exchange.

Authorities were alerted to the crime thanks to an automatic call that came from the car's "OnStar" emergency system.

The victims were talking about the incident Sunday and how the push of a button might have saved their lives.

Details of the robbery sound like something out of a car commercial. But for one Chicago woman, it was all too real.

The suspect, a resident of Chicago's West Side, remained behind bars Sunday night charged with one count of home invasion armed with a firearm and aggravated battery to a police officer.

He was being held $50,000 bond.

"I'm so happy," the woman said tearfully.

She shielded her face as she spoke Sunday fearing for her safety after a man first robbed her in her home but was eventually apprehended by police who used the On Star vehicle security system to capture him.

The ordeal happened early Friday morning. That's when investigators say 24-year-old Jerrell Arterberry approached the woman's husband as he returned home from a night out with friends and family.

The man says the alleged suspect struck him in the face and forced him into the house and demanded money at gunpoint.

"I get up. This guy's running down the hallway and says, 'This is a stick-up. Give me your money,'" said the woman, who also wished to remain unidentified.

The victim says after she gave her attacker $700 in cash she had in the house, he said it wasn't enough. So, she showed him a check she had in the amount of several hundred dollars and offered to go to the Currency Exchange with him to cash it.

"I felt like, if I get him out of the home, I would stand a better chance. Get him out of the home," she said.

Detectives say that is when Arterberry, a convicted felon, forced the couple to drive to the 79th Street and Vincennes Currency Exchange in their black 2010 Cadillac SUV. Once there, the woman says she tried to get help by activating the car's security system but failed.

She then tricked her captor by pretending to need her jacket.

"I go back to the car. I knew that if I got the remote, the car will activate because it's keyless. I bent down and hit the brake, and hit the red On Star button. She says, "On Star emergency, how may I help you?'" said the victim.

Officers responded and wrestled with Arterberry. The gun in his waistband fell out of his pant leg, but police eventually subdued and arrested him.

The victims say their vehicle security system saved their lives.

"I'll continue to live my life the way I've been living it, but I will be more aware of my surroundings," one of the victims told ABC7 Chicago.

Police officials say Arterberry was on parole at the time he allegedly committed the crime.

The suspect heads to court in the coming week.


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