Neighbor of home invasion victim: "I grabbed the first kitchen knife I saw"

Neighbor of home invasion victim: "I grabbed the first kitchen knife I saw"
Mo Elghoul (Source: NBC12)
Mo Elghoul (Source: NBC12)

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - VCU police are looking for five suspects who broke into an apartment complex near the university, early Friday morning. Three of those men were armed, with an assault rifle, handgun and a knife.

The violent break-in happened around 2:19 a.m. in the 1100 block of West Grace Street, near VCU's Monroe Park Campus. Detectives say the suspects forced their way into the apartment after knocking on the door. They stole cash, cell phones and other items from the apartment once they made it inside. Thankfully, no one was hurt.

Mo Elghoul, a resident who lives below the apartment where the break in happened, says he awoke to screaming. Elghoul says he immediately grabbed a kitchen knife for protection and knocked on the backdoor of his neighbor's apartment.

"I was thinking, 'I don't know what's going on. I should protect myself or somebody. So I grabbed the first kitchen knife that I saw," said Elghoul.

No one answered after he knocked, so Elghoul went back to his apartment. Police arrived shortly afterwards. Elghoul says he spoke briefly to the victim, who had a bruise to his face.

"The first thing he said to me was, 'I just got robbed,'" said Elghoul. "[I] asked him if he was okay. And he said, 'Yes. Thank you for knocking on the backdoor. I think that's why they left.'"

Police say the suspects made off with cash, cell phones and other items,  leaving a community of college students rattled.

"I was really confused. I was concerned. It took me a little while to go back to sleep," said Emma Sims, a VCU student who lives next door.

Residents say the front door is very secure with an automated lock, but the back doors to each apartment are hidden and have traditional locks, which would be much easier to break into.

"I don't feel safe coming home late from a bar or something, walking up the steps and someone is waiting for me there…That's very scary," said Elghoul.

All suspects were wearing dark clothing, are average height and are between 19 to 23 years old. Officers say at least one of the suspects was a Latino man, and another suspect was a black man. The races of the other suspects are unknown at this time.

Police are asking students and people who live in the area to be vigilant, since the suspects are still out there. Richmond Police say officers are more than happy to check out anything that might seem suspicious, so residents should not hesitate to call 911. Any helpful information, in this case, can be reported to the VCU Detectives at 804-828-6409. You can also call Crime Stoppers anonymously at (804) 780-1000.

Copyright 2017 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved