EDGEWATER — Brianna Joy White, a YouTube beauty vlogger, and her house-flipping husband Jaelin, both 18, recently moved to Chicago looking to start married life together. By the next day, they were packed up and headed home to Arizona.
In a video posted to Brianna's YouTube channel, the couple explained from a kitchen decorated with marble counters and stainless-steel appliances how they'd become "homeless" after a "traumatic experience" that ended in a stranger punching Jaelin in the face near the Granville Red Line station in Edgewater.
"We just felt too uncomfortable to stay living in that specific apartment," Brianna told DNAinfo. "We are back in Arizona for the meantime, but I think this experience just taught us to not trust everyone. No matter where we live in the future, crazy things like this can happen, you just have to be aware of your surroundings."
Linze Rice talks about reactions to the YouTubers tale of fleeing Chicago.
The couple's experience, described below, would be upsetting. But the way they reacted to it left Chicagoans who heard their story quite peeved.
White eventually turned off YouTube comments, which just forced annoyed locals to Reddit, Facebook and Twitter to share their outrage.
@BriannaJoyWhite you and your husband are terrible. Please don't come back to Chicago.— Jeremy Scheuch (@jeremyscheuch) August 21, 2016
"This is why the terrorists hate us," another viewer posted on Facebook.
"Holy cringey waste of precious time," another wrote. "Stay safe out there Chicago. Keep people like this in Arizona."
In the video, the Whites said they had moved to Edgewater for two months while they waited for another apartment in the Loop to open up.
"We read Yelp reviews, they were all positive, nothing crazy, so we were like, 'Oh OK this is a good neighborhood,'" Brianna said.
In the video, the couple recall in explicit detail their trip to Chicago, buying and setting up furniture and after a drive home from IKEA, eyeing the Rogers Park Chipotle for dinner.
After walking to the Granville Red Line station, Jaelin said he was confronted by a man who at first "seemed cool" but made the couple feel uncomfortable with prodding questions.
"Do not tell him that you flip houses or that you make YouTube videos," Jaelin said he remembered thinking to himself.
The couple referred to the man as a "lunatic," "nut job," "crazy" and "creepy" throughout the video and describe him as being unable to make much eye contact, but asserted he "wasn't homeless or anything."
They decided to leave the platform and walk back down to Granville Avenue when they noticed the man was heading the same direction, about 20 paces behind them.
Though acknowledging that the Loyola police station was right there, the couple ducked into a nearby Subway sandwich shop on North Broadway and after a moment, saw the man lingering near the store.
Jaelin said he walked out to ask what the man wanted, but he was "just hanging around" and everything was "all good" went back inside.
"At this point I'm thinking, either he's just some lunatic and he's going to shoot us point blank, or he's looking to rob us," the husband said, adding that he called both an Uber and 911.
After being told an officer would stop by, Jaelin said he went back outside to confront the man a second time, this time seeking an explanation for why the man was "hanging around our area."
"At this point I feel like I'm going to throw up, like I literally thought I was just going to have a heart attack," Brianna said. "His voice was so sketchy."
The man then asked the husband to come outside and talk with him without his "girl," and the couple said it became apparent to passers-by something was amiss.
A car pulled up to ask the couple if everything was OK, and they ran for its doors thinking it was the Uber they'd requested, the couple said.
As they ran into the car, the man lunged toward the husband and punched him in the face, they recalled.
"Thank god he wasn't strong enough to just knock me out," Jaelin said.
In the process, his shoe came off, but it was scooped up by his wife, who described herself in the moment as "such a baller."
The driver of the car they jumped in drove the couple around the block before dropping them off at the CVS on North Broadway, near their home. Then, they spotted the man "celebrating like a cave man" and said they felt unsafe returning to the apartment.
They jumped in their car and sped off.
"I'm sobbing my eyes out driving towards downtown trying to find a good safe spot to stop," Jaelin said.
The couple called their parents and arranged to stay in a hotel that night before packing up and heading back to Arizona the next day.
Though they still had the lease for the Loop apartment, the couple said they didn't feel safe returning to Chicago, though they admitted it was "all psychological." They described themselves as "homeless" as they try to find somewhere new to live.
"I don't care what it costs me, we are getting out of this house early, I'm not staying here 'til the end of September," Jaelin said he remembered thinking. "After this event, I've got personally a little bit of PTSD ... [which] sounds dumb because nothing even really happened — But like for us that was a very traumatic experience."
The couple said though there plenty of people around during the incident, they suspect they were chosen as a target because they were dressed "preppy." They describe their outfits in the video and those of the commuters around them, saying they were surprised they had been targeted, "even though there's way easier targets all around," the husband said.
In the end, the experience was part of the bigger picture of their journey, Brianna said.
"I believe that god has a plan for us and he will guide us to do whatever he has in his plan for us," she said. "All you can really do is just pray for him and just pray that he is OK so that nobody else will have to experience that."
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