Woman leaving Valley Plaza Mall followed to her car by stranger

Posted at 8:07 PM, Jul 27, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-27 23:07:05-04

Sunday night Katie Blackwelder was leaving Lucille's BBQ inside the Valley Plaza where she works.


"I get this weird feeling in my stomach and felt like I wasn't alone. So I take my phone out and kind of looked around and saw this man behind me," said Blackwelder.


A face she had never seen before. Now A face she will never forget. 


"So I'm walking to my car a little faster, a little bit faster and this man starts picking up his pace," said Blackwelder.


Blackwelder says she made a mad dash to her car, got in and immediately locked the doors.


"I don't know if he made a grab for door to make Sure I locked it and he just stands there and he's watching me," said Blackwelder.  


Terrified and confused. She didn't know what would happen next. 


"I’m shaking I'm holding my steering wheel. I start my car and I just go forward down the wrong aisle that way I can just get out of there," said Blackwelder.


She described the man as Hispanic with black hair wearing a red shirt, carrying a plastic bag.


While the 22-year-old says that Lucille’s management asks that female employees be accompanied to their cars at night, she says she never thought her life would be in danger. 


Now she's warning other women. She shared her story on Facebook and her post now has over 1,000 shares. 


"We as women need to stick together and make sure that you go out in numbers. Never go out by yourself," said Blackwelder.


A warning echoed by Dan Camarillo, owner of Camarillo Jui Juitsu. 


"That would be the number one thing I'd do. Get a group to walk to your car and make sure you're safe. Number two would be some type of weapon," said Camarillo.


Camarillo adds that women should always carry their keys in their hands when walking to their cars, and not in their purse. 


Blackwelder now carries mace and said she's much more aware of her surroundings. She hopes women will hear her story and do the same. 


Blackwelders tells 23ABC that she has contacted Bakersfield Police about the incident.


23ABC reached out to Valley Plaza management for comment but did not hear back from them.