Jordan Dinsmore prayed her kidnappers wouldn’t notice the beeping noise her 2009 Scion made when she unclicked her seat belt.
The 20-year-old Midlands Tech student purposely missed a turn her kidnappers ordered her to make into a neighborhood off Bluff Road, south of downtown Columbia.
Then, with a rush of adrenaline, Dinsmore flung open the driver-side door and leaped out of the moving car – away from the gunman who told her she was going to be raped.
“I just screamed: ‘Call 911! Call 911! Someone just kidnapped me and threatened to shoot me!’ ” Dinsmore told The State newspaper, describing her 1 a.m. Wednesday escape from two men who had abducted her in the parking lot of her privately owned student apartment complex.
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The incident is among seven armed robberies, carjackings and kidnappings along the Bluff Road and Shop Road corridors over the past month, Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said Thursday.
That pattern surfaced publicly Thursday through social media posts and the circulation of an emailed warning from a nearby student apartment complex.
That complex, Stadium Suites, warned residents Tuesday the Richland County Sheriff’s Department was investigating reports of armed robberies nearby.
Dinsmore had not heard about Stadium Suites’ warning when she left her job at Buffalo Wild Wings about 12:30 a.m. Wednesday.
She reached The Village – her Shop Road housing complex – about 15 minutes later, switching her car off in a dimly lit parking lot outside her apartment.
That is when three men emerged from a nearby line of trees and pushed Dinsmore to the ground, she says. One pointed a gun at her and threatened to pull the trigger if she kept screaming.
The men, all wearing dark clothing, took her phone and purse, Dinsmore said. They forced her back into her car, but not before struggling with the door locks and realizing the car had a stick shift that none of them could operate, she said.
Tired of the delay, one fled on foot, Dinsmore said. The other two, including one with a gray handgun, forced Dinsmore into the driver’s seat and told her to drive them to a nearby ATM.
“I was pleading with them to just take my stuff and let me go, but they said that I had to come with them,” said Dinsmore, a criminal justice major with dreams of becoming an FBI agent.
The men threatened to shoot her if she screamed or tried to tell anyone she was in trouble, Dinsmore said.
Dinsmore thought about her mother, Beth Turner, who had narrowly avoided being assaulted while in college decades ago.
Turner had drilled her daughter on how to react in similar spots: Stay calm. Don’t let them get you alone. Try to escape.
“If they get you out of the public eye, they’re going to do something worse to you and shoot you anyway,” Dinsmore recalled her mother saying.
Dinsmore pulled up to the ATM and unfastened her seat belt to reach its buttons.
She withdrew $300 – the maximum allowed – and pleaded again to be released. Instead, she was told to drive north on Bluff Road toward Columbia. “I knew that at that point I had to get out.”
Dinsmore left her seat belt off, hoping the men wouldn’t notice the car’s safety alarm.
As they drove, one of her abductors told her they were headed to a relative’s house, where Dinsmore would have sex with one of his friends.
“I was thinking somehow I have to get out of this,” Dinsmore said. “Can I crash the car? No, because it might knock me out and not them. Can I pull over or something? I have to get away from them.”
One of the men told Dinsmore to take a right onto Blair Road.
But, with three cars coming from the opposite direction, Dinsmore saw an opportunity. She rolled her car through the intersection, ignoring orders to pull over, throwing the car in neutral and jumping out at roughly 35 miles an hour.
Dinsmore says she did not see what happened to her attackers. But she thinks they fled on foot, unable to drive the car away after it veered off the road and into the brush.
Thursday, Dinsmore was wearing bandages on her legs from where she hit the asphalt.
She speaks with relief about the young woman who stopped to pick her up, and about the minimal damage her car suffered.
She has had trouble sleeping and returned home to Charleston on Wednesday to stay with her parents – who now keep the lights on at night.
“I don’t want any other mother to get the phone call that I got,” said Turner, her mother.
Dinsmore is cooperating with Richland County investigators on the case, including one who nicknamed her “James Bond” for her escape act.
She remains thankful her attackers didn’t know how to drive a stick shift.
“I’m going to be driving a manual for the rest of my life,” she said.