The CEO of Strand Security in Murrells Inlet is sharing her story, both as a warning and an offer to help.
Six years ago, Heather Bryant was working in a small boutique in another state when a man with a gun came in to rob her.
"He approached me, put a gun to my chest and asked for all the money.," she said.
She gave him the money and expected him to leave, but he didn't.
"He then demanded that I go into the stockroom. At that point I realized that I was not going to in the back room, in this tiny stockroom with this man and his gun." said Bryant.
So she took action.
She said, "I reached down to grab a wooden and metal display case. I threw it onto him, and when I did, he fell to the ground. The money went everywhere. He dropped his gun at that point, and I started to fight." She continued, "He was yelling at me. He was so mad. I just knew. I knew that I had to fight. I kept fighting, and I got really angry because I didn't want to die. I didn't want to not see my kids again and my family again, so I made it to the middle of the store."
Someone then saw her through the front window.
"She heard the vibrations from the fight," said Bryant. That woman called police.
"He picked up the gun, left the money. He called me some names and said he would be back for me and ran out of the store," said Bryant.
Bryant said self-defense training helped her survive. That's why she now offers training through her business, Strand Security, with the help of Amos Collins.
Collins is a combat sports instructor on the Grand Strand.
Strand Security is offering self-defense classes once a month, starting on May 21. For more information about the class, click here. If you would like to sign up, click here.
Collins said the first thing to do is bring attention to the situation with your arms up and hands open.
"I don't want to show an act of aggression. I just want to bring attention to the situation and keep my hands up to protect myself, so if someone is coming to me I'm going to be like 'Stop! Get back! I don't want any trouble!' It will bring attention to what's going on," said Collins.
He said to always be in a self-defense stance, which is one foot in the front and one foot in the back.
"It's very important to know how to handle yourself if you need to," said Collins.
If you can't take self-defense classes, you may want to carry mace or a taser.
He said most importantly, stay calm and run as soon as you can. If you can't, use what's around you.
"If I'm put in that situation I'm going to have to react with what resources you have," said Collins.
That's exactly what Bryant did. She said you can too.
"Don't ever think you can't fight. I fought for my life, and I'm alive,' said Bryant.
Bryant said the boutique she was working in didn't have cameras or a panic button.
"We had an alarm system that protected the store once you closed it and locked it up, but not anything to protect the employees," said Bryant.
Lt. Joey Crosby, Myrtle Beach Police Department, said ideally businesses should have cameras, an alarm system, and a panic button.
Since those are costly, he said businesses should try to have more than one employee working at a time and have the inside and outside of the store well lit. He also said businesses should avoid putting merchandise up that would block windows or doors. That prohibits people from being able to see what's going on inside.