POLICE say a woman escaped her ex-boyfriend who allegedly threatened to kill her with a screwdriver by using a simple TikTok signal.
Witness Eric Streeval described what unfolded inside a convenience store on April 10 after the woman gestured for help.
Police said the woman was visiting her brother in Tennessee on April 10 when her ex-boyfriend, Johnathon Smith, arrived.
She went with Smith in his vehicle. But then, the two got into a "physical altercation," Hickman County Sheriff’s Office Lieutenant Mike Doddo told The Tennessean.
“The girlfriend then asked to be let out. He said, ‘No,’” according to Doddo.
Smith, 31, then "threatened to kill her by grabbing a screwdriver and telling her, if he couldn’t have her, nobody could have her,” Doddo said.
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That's when Smith allegedly began driving recklessly before pulling into a Twice Daily gas station.
There, the woman gestured to a gas station employee. She folded her thumb into the palm of her hand and closed her other four fingers over it, as she had learned on TikTok.
The employee reportedly repeated the gesture back to her before staff called 911.
Police said Smith went to check out and the cashier stalled while the cops were en route to the scene.
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But Smith began to catch onto what was happening, according to Doddo, and returned to his vehicle with the woman.
As the two were pulling away from the gas station, a corporal from the Hickman County Sheriff’s Office followed them.
A pursuit then began, Doddo said, with vehicle speeds reaching 90 miles per hour. After 10-15 minutes, Smith crashed his vehicle into a creek.
He was eventually captured on foot. The woman was uninjured, The Tennessean reports.
Eric Streeval was in the Twice Daily when the woman entered, FOX56 reports. She allegedly mouthed "help" to him.
Streeval, belonging to a motorcycle group that assists women in domestic violence situations, credits the woman for seeking help.
“If you see something, say something,” Streeval told FOX56.
“Domestic violence is a bad thing here in Tennessee. The victims, a lot of times they’re too afraid to speak out.
"And I credit the young lady in this situation with having the world’s most courage of actually speaking out because who knows what would have happened.”
The woman's ex-boyfriend was charged with aggravated kidnapping and aggravated domestic assault, authorities said, with more charges possible.
This is not the first time the TikTok gesture has helped a woman escape a domestic violence situation.
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A missing teenage girl abducted by a man flashed the signal at a passing driver last year.
Some internet sleuths also believe the hand signal was used by Gabby Petito during her encounter with cops in Moab, Utah.
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