Women speak out about unsettling encounters on Highway 280

HOOVER, Ala. (WIAT) — It’s a scary situation on Highway 280 near Inverness. Several women are reporting frightening encounters with men who ask for money, and then act inappropriately, even threatening.

It happened to Amy Williams, who said she was pumping gas at the Shell station when a man approached her, then asked for cash.

“It surprised me, and it scared me, the thought of not knowing what he was going to do, after I told him I didn’t have the money,” Williams said. “That was even scarier, the thought that he was going to pursue me or attack me to get the money.”

The encounter left her so shaken, she ran inside the gas station for help. Clarence Rickett was behind the cashier.

“She was very upset, so I felt it was my responsibility to go out and shoo him away,” said Rickett.

Rickett says they have seen some panhandlers behaving aggressively toward people.

“Ninety-nine percent of the people in this area are great. Occasionally we get them that come in that want to solicit. We don’t tolerate soliciting,” he said.

On social media, multiple accounts have popped up, with women claiming a similar exchange with a man, a man they perceived as threatening.

For her part, Williams, who travels Highway 280 twice a day on her work commute, says she wanted to share her story to tell others to be aware as they go about their daily routines. She says she’s already more aware when she stops at gas stations in the area.

“I make sure my car’s locked if I get out to go pump the gas or if I go into the gas station. I’m always keeping an eye out for anything suspicious, things like that,” Williams said.

Local law enforcement agencies say if you encounter an aggressive or threatening panhandler in the area, you should contact them.

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