AKRON, Ohio (WJW) — An Akron grandmother said she is grateful to be alive after fighting off a man with a gun trying to steal her car while stopped at a red light.

“He pointed the gun right at me and I had never physically been that close to a barrel and that’s what really shook me up,” said Marianne Suich, 59. “He said give me your car … called me some names. I said, ‘I’m not giving you my car.’ He took his hand with the gun and smacked me in the back of the head.”

It happened just before 8 p.m. Wednesday along West Market Street near West Street in Akron. Suich said she was driving home from work in her 2021 Kia sports car after stopping at a pharmacy. Shortly afterward, she noticed she was being followed by a black Chevy Suburban with a black grill, black rims and heavily tinted windows. 

Before she could react, Suich said a man jumped out of the SUV, wearing a surgical mask and gloves and holding a gun at her lowered driver-side window.

She said, “Am I going to get home? I am I going to see my grandkids again? I just held onto the steering wheel and looked down his barrel, said a little prayer inside. Somebody was watching over me.”

Suich pepper-sprayed the man, forcing him to run away, then called 911. The suspect got back in the waiting SUV and fled south along Maple Street, police said.

Although she was able to escape this incident, she warns others not to fight back.

“A material thing is not as important as your life,” she said. “I played it over in my head last night and I couldn’t sleep. I should have just let him have the car. That’s what you have insurance for.”

Police described the suspect as a Black man with a thin build and medium to long braids or dreadlocks. He was wearing a black hooded sweatshirt, light-gray jeans and red-and-white tennis shoes, as well as a surgical mask.

Detectives are working to identify the suspect and determine whether this incident is connected to other similar crimes in the area.

Anyone with information is urged to call Akron Police Department detectives at 330-375-2490 or 330-375-2TIP (330-375-2847).

Tips can also be delivered to Summit County Crimestoppers at 330-434-COPS (330-434-2677). You can also text TIPSCO to 274637.

Callers can remain anonymous.