NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — A self-defense expert is encouraging the public to stay vigilant in order to avoid becoming carjacking victims.

The comes after Metro police announced officers are looking for a suspect who they say sideswiped a woman on Hillsboro Pike and Woodmont Boulevard on Oct. 22, 2022, then carjacked her at gun point.

The carjacking happened around 4:20 a.m. after the victim dropped her son off at work, according to the police report. The victim told officers a strange car sideswiped her, then forced her to pullover.

A second suspect got out of the car, demanded she call someone, then threatened to shoot her if she didn’t get out of the car, the report continued. The victim got out of the car to avoid being shot.

Pat Thurmond, an Army veteran turned self-defense trainer, told News 2 the driver made the right call by getting out of the car and handing over her keys.

However, there are a number of proactive actions the public can take to decrease their chances of getting into a similar situation.

“Always make sure that you’re paying attention to everything that’s going on around you, even if you’re just sitting in traffic, because a parked car is an invitation,” Thurmond said.

In addition, keep your car doors locked, your windows up, and the engine running in case you need to get away.

When stopping, leave space between you and the car in front of you so if you need to escape, you have enough room to do so.

“A person comes up to you. They have a gun. If the car is running, put it in drive and go. You can get out of that situation,” Thurmond said. “I see a lot of people, they’ll come up and pull bumper to bumper with the car in front of them, and then they’ll sit there on their phone and text, so you’ve just taken away two things: you’ve taken away your opportunity for a quick getaway, but you’ve also taken away your opportunity to see something coming so you know that you need to make a quick getaway.”

If there’s no way to escape, Thurmond said to follow the criminal’s directions and hand over the keys, especially if they have a gun.

With 271 auto thefts in Nashville in December alone, it can be easy to become a victim.

Thurmond told News 2 the best way to prevent that is to stay aware and trust your gut if you sense danger.

To learn more or to sign up to train with Thurmond, click here.

Anyone with information on the carjacking is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 615-742-7463.