SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Savannah Police are investigating a home invasion and sexual assault of a woman on the 100 block of E. DeRenne Avenue, Monday afternoon.
Police say the victim answered the front door of her home in Kensington Park neighborhood when she encountered a suspect who was posing as a delivery man. After a brief exchange, officials say he forced her to open the back door of the house, letting two more suspects inside. As the other two collected items from the home, the initial suspect sexually assaulted the victim. The woman was able to grab a firearm and fired shots at the suspects who then ran from the scene.
Police say one suspect is described as a Hispanic male with an average build. He was wearing a black polo-style shirt, black pants, and gloves. The second is described as a tall black male wearing a black hooded sweatshirt, black pants, and gloves. The third is a male of an unknown race wearing a red long-sleeved shirt, brown pants, and gloves.
A next-door neighbor says she has taken precautions to make sure this doesn't happen to her.
"For what I experienced, it really opened my eyes as to how you can make yourself just not as much as an easy target," said Amy West, who has lived in Kensington Park for nine years. "Unfortunately, it's sad that you have to live that way, but for me now, I have a security system on a screen who's standing in front of the door, and sometimes I just open it."
What this incident brings up is - how do we know when someone coming to our doorstep is not a fraud?
"This is a safe and secluded place, so for something like this to happen is just shocking and really terrifying, actually," West said.
Even with the extra security she's installed, she's questioning her safety.
"Where are we safe really that you can't even trust opening your front door. When things like that happen, you'll never be the same," she said. "We're looked at as prey and when you're in your house in the middle of the day on a Monday or Tuesday afternoon, that's not really when you have your guard up."
Another longtime resident of the neighborhood says she has a security system in place also, and police are even using her security cam footage in the investigation.
"I feel reassured at the enormous response they had. They were swarming with detectives picking up all kind of evidence, fingerprints, or whatever they were collecting," said Marianne Scheer, who has lived in Kensington Park for 52 years.
How should you know when to open your door? City Alderman Julian Miller says sometimes, it's hard to tell.
"So, the idea of you're not expecting a package, don't open the door, that really won't hold true because none of us know when we're getting a package. The idea of looking for somebody with a uniform or credentials - that doesn't always hold true. Anyone can take credentials," Alderman Miller said.
The alderman says even if you aren't sure, it's better safe than sorry.
"I can tell you, I've worked with these officers. If it's a legit person, they'll tell you that and they'll apologize to the person and the person will understand that we were taking extra precautions," Miller said.
As for homeowners on East DeRenne Avenue, they say they want these three men found immediately.
"I hope that whoever did this to this family is caught, and I hope they are truly punished for as severe a crime and violation to a human being that this really is," West said.
There are currently no reported shooting injuries involved.
This investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information on this incident is asked to call the SPD tip line by dialing 912.525.3124. Information may also be forwarded to CrimeStoppers at 912.234.2020. Tipsters remain anonymous and may qualify for a cash reward.