‘You do whatever you can to survive’: 99-year-old woman fought off an intruder in south Minneapolis home

A 99-year-old woman fought off an intruder at her home in South Minneapolis.

Minneapolis Police Department confirmed to 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS they are searching for a suspect in this violent break-in.

"You do whatever you can to survive," said Evelyn Johnson, the victim in this case.

Johnson said a man snuck into her home through a back window around 10 a.m. on Monday and then attacked her, covering her head with a blanket.

"I think he was surprised," Johnson recalled. "He thought he was just going to cover my mouth and smother me, but that didn’t happen. I fought him. We wrestled for quite a while, according to all my bruises."

Johnson said the suspect ultimately shoved her into the bathroom and shut the door, making off with about $40 and an iPad.

"She wasn’t going to let him take her down and she fought for her life," said Barbara Johnson, Evelyn’s daughter. "That really is incredible. At 99 and a half, I don’t know where she got the strength."

Police confirmed they are looking for a suspect in this case but are not putting out further details at this time.

Minneapolis Police Department is warning about an increase in crime, downtown and in South Minneapolis. They said officers have responded to 100 robberies and 20 carjackings in the 3rd precinct in July alone, with most of the crimes happening north of 42nd Street East.

Police said thieves are stealing cell phones, purses and vehicles. They said some of the victims have been maced, dragged, assaulted and threatened with guns.

According to MPD crime statistics, there have been 909 robberies in Minneapolis this year, a 37% increase from last year.

"The 3rd precinct is my home and what’s going on is kind of a shame," Barbara Johnson said. "The fact that we’ve been violated here is really a sad reflection of what’s going on."

Barbara Johnson said her family has lived on the same street in South Minneapolis since 1905. They said they are saddened to see the area becoming increasingly unsafe but are grateful Evelyn survived the home invasion.

"I am surprised when I think that I’m 99 years old and was able to work off that strong, young man," Evelyn Johnson said. "God was with me."

Evelyn’s hearing aid was crushed in the scuffle with the intruder, which will likely cost her thousands of dollars. A friend set up this GoFundMe page to help.

(NOTE: Because the hearing aid was damaged, Evelyn asked reporter Alex Jokich to pull her mask down so she could read her lips during the interview to understand better what she was saying. The 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS crew maintained appropriate social distancing measures while interviewing the Johnsons.)

Hearing technology company Starkey, based in Eden Prairie, contacted 5 EYEWITNESS News after this story aired, hoping to provide Evelyn new hearing aids for free to replace the ones that were damaged. Starkey’s president and CEO said he felt terrible Evelyn had to endure something like this and wanted to help.

Minneapolis Police Department is now urging the public to take extra precautions to avoid falling victim to violent crime.

Robbery Prevention Tips from MPD:

• Do not walk alone

• Be hyper-aware of your surroundings at all times – pay attention!

• Carry only items you need, and carry less cash

• Be prepared to give up your cell phone and purse/wallet

• Have keys already in your hand as you approach your car

• Despite all our efforts, robberies may still occur! Do not argue or fight with the criminal. Do as they say. Your safety is most important!

• Be a good witness. When you call 911, be prepared to answer many questions. (How many suspects? Age, height, complexion, hair and eye color? Scars or tattoos? Weapon- what did it look like? What direction did they leave in? Vehicle description?)

Carjacking Prevention Tips from MPD:

• Lock your doors while driving

• Don’t stop for strangers who are trying to approach you or stop your car

• Park in well-lit areas

• Always be hyper-aware of your surroundings

• Use a tracking device

• Never leave anything of value in your car

• Never leave your car running unattended. Many victims were dropping off food or other deliveries.

• Memorize your License Plate number. It helps towards a faster recovery.