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Home invasion victim recalls terror

By KBell
April 6, 2012 at 5:04 p.m.
Updated April 6, 2012 at 11:07 p.m.

MaryAnn Gutierrez describes the gunmen who ordered her to lie face down as they robbed and threatened to shoot her.

IF YOU HAVE INFORMATION

All four men who broke into MaryAnn Gutierrez's home were average height and build, she said. Gutierrez described their vehicle as a white Dodge truck. She thinks they carried guns with long barrels. The Victoria Police Department is investigating. If you have any information, call the Crime Stoppers tipline at 361-572-4200. You may remain anonymous and may be eligible for a reward.

It was 12:45 a.m. Friday, and MaryAnn Gutierrez was home alone.

A truck door slammed outside the window.

Gutierrez, who lives in the 700 block of Delmar Drive, peeked out her front door to discover an unfamiliar, white Dodge pickup in her driveway. The 45-year-old sent her dog outside to scare off whoever was in the truck.

But the four masked gunmen weren't in the pickup. They were on both sides of her home. And, before Gutierrez knew it, they were inside her home.

"They started screaming, I didn't know what to do, which one to listen to," Gutierrez said. "Then everybody got quiet and there was just one leader, who said, 'Put your face down and cover your eyes.'"

Gutierrez thought she heard a firecracker. Someone had kicked her or hit her arm with the butt of a long-barrel gun. She didn't resist, but buried her head as ordered.

"Please don't leave my kids a tragedy, Lord," Gutierrez prayed into the tiled floor.

Within minutes, the gunmen had taken two TVs, an Xbox, computer and a Kinect that they later dropped in the driveway. The four men also got away with all of $47 that was in Gutierrez's purse.

Their final command was that she continue to lie face-down for 10 minutes. Don't call the police, or we'll kill you, the gunman had said.

"I laid for a few minutes - not 10 minutes - but I know it was a few minutes. And when I finally got up, I'm thinking is he looking through the window?" Gutierrez said.

Her fear compounded when she realized the men had taken her cell phone and car keys. Without her glasses or a way to contact help, Gutierrez made the decision to walk about a block to Delmar Drive, terrified the men were still lurking in the darkness.

She flagged down a passing vehicle, and by 1 a.m. Friday, police were surrounding the neighborhood in search of suspects.

Victoria Police Chief JJ Craig said investigators don't have immediate leads. But Gutierrez said she recognized one of the voices screaming at her. She doesn't think she was a random target, and she's no longer taking the invasion lying down.

"It's somebody who had been in that home before. Definitely. That's what I want him to know - that even though I'm afraid, I'm going to stand up for myself," she said. "You're the coward that came in with the gun."

After spending the rest of the sleepless night at her son's home, Gutierrez returned to the crime scene 12 hours later. She walked in the front door and looked up at the hole in the ceiling before hanging her head, exhausted to tears. That firecracker sound, she found out, was a gunshot in her ceiling. Things would never be the same, she said.

"Reality set in, and I said these people came with a loaded gun to get a TV," she said. "It just doesn't make sense. They ruined my stability. Now I'm going to be a basket case."

Though trembling inside, she said, Gutierrez is empowered by telling her story. She wants others to be wary of the people they invite into their homes.

"I just want people in Victoria to be aware that there are people out there willing to put anyone's life at risk for a TV," she said.

Gutierrez, her voice growing more shaky as the shock continued to wear off, said she'll move out of the house. She doesn't anticipate getting a full night's sleep anytime soon - or even leaving the house after dark. She'll be looking over her shoulder, she said, and looking out for that voice she recognized.

"I'm going to put some fear in you the way you put fear in me. ... I may not have a gun, I may not threaten your life, but I want you to know that they know about you out there," she said. "You can't just go destroying peoples' lives and minds ... They might have stolen my TV, but they stole my peace of mind."

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