GIBSONTON, Fla. (FOX 13) - A Hillsborough County Air Force veteran believes she was racially profiled when a security guard followed her and stopped her during her morning run this week.
Annie Carter served in the military for 16 years before retiring in January. She has since moved to Gibsonton, where she always takes her morning run along the same route into the South Bay Lakes community, which connects to the neighborhood where she lives.
Carter told FOX 13, during her run, at around 5:30 Wednesday morning, an unmarked pickup truck approached her. She said she was nervous, so she took our her cell phone and recorded the interaction.
"I kept saying, 'You're freaking me out. You're freaking me out.' Because I was freaked out," she said Friday. "I'm a woman walking by myself at 5:30 in the morning and this car is following me."
During the recorded exchange, the driver can be heard telling her he's a security guard for the community and stopped her because she was covering her face with a hood.
Carter, however, asked to see his security identification and the man declined to show it to her.
"At this point, he still has provided no type of information to me and he's just following me," she said. "This is not against the law. Walking on a public street or public sidewalk with a hoodie is not against the law."
Carter recorded four videos and, in each one, the guard passes by her. She said she felt like she was being harassed because she's black and wore a hoodie.
"They can still profile you and think that you're doing something malicious and you're just trying to live. And it's a slap in my face for my sacrifice in service," she said. "This is heart-breaking to me because...I am a veteran. I'm a combat veteran. I just retired from the Air Force and I come back to a country where I'm treated like a second class citizen."
The security guard eventually provided his identification, toward the end of the encounter.
Carter filed a report with the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. Deputies investigated but determined no criminal activity took place. Because of that, FOX 13 has chosen not to identify the security company or the security guard involved in the incident.
The company's owner stood by his employee's actions and said the security officer was doing his job and was on high alert because of an increase in crime in that community.
"I want an apology, definitely. I don't think that man needs to be guarding a neighborhood," Carter said,
A spokesperson for the Sun Bay Lakes community told FOX 13 he believes the situation could have been handled differently by both people involved. He said if Carter's accusations are correct, he does not condone the security guard's actions. But the community spokesperson also echoed the statement made by the owner of the company; the officer might have been doing was he's paid to do in trying to keep the neighborhood safe.