MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Coral Gables Police honored two citizens on  Friday who helped put an accused robber behind bars.

One of them was a victim of the home invasion while the other was a neighbor who helped her.

The intruder who broke into the woman’s home was caught, but police said it was all because of a neighbor who went out of his way.

The smile on her face now doesn’t tell the terror Joan Williams lived through back in May 2013.

The 84-year-old was inside her Coral Gables home when a man walked in through her garage. He demanded her jewelry, including a $35,000 diamond ring. He punched her and dragged her through the house, demanding more jewelry.

“The strongest thing I can say is that Jesus never left me,” said Williams.

Williams says she was praying the whole time.

“I was lying on that kitchen floor and I kept saying Jesus help me now, and Jesus heard my prayers,” said Williams.

Despite the home intruder yelling at her for praying, she was able to get away. She made it to her backyard and climbed over her fence.

The accused robber, Keith Vaughn Cooper was arrested. Police said that’s only because Williams’ neighbor saw he was running away. The neighbor then wrote down the license plate number of the alleged getaway car. It was the key to the arrest.

“If you don’t know your neighbor, go ahead and get to know them, because you never know when you’re going to need them or when they’re going to need you,” said Dr. Alan Gonzalez, a neighbor.

The reason both Williams and her neighbor were recognized is because police said Cooper, was allegedly involved in other robberies all over Miami-Dade.

Police say it goes to show how important citizen participation is.


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