Police in Austin, Texas, are investigating the beating and armed robbery of a college student early Sunday that was caught on FaceTime — and the victim’s best friend is speaking out to PEOPLE about her chilling experience as a witness.
Yale Gerstein, 19, was FaceTiming Baylee Lucciana just after midnight Sunday when he heard a knock on his apartment door. When he opened the door, Gerstein was attacked by three men who started beating him with their guns, Baylee tells PEOPLE.
“Mid-conversation he gets up and walks over [to his door], and I hear screaming and yelling and lots of commotion,” Baylee says.
“[Moments] later I see him being held down with a gun to his head, and [the suspects] saying, ‘Should we just shoot him, should we just get it over with?’ ”
Baylee, who lives with her father, Chris Lucciana, called him over, and the pair started taking screengrabs of the attack while calling 911, which PEOPLE has declined to publish.
“I believe [no one was hurt] just because of FaceTime,” Chris says. “Otherwise he [would] have been a goner.”
Baylee and her father were on the phone with police for 17 minutes while they witnessed the attack, they say. At one point, their computer connection was lost.
“Before the 911 call finished the remark was made ‘Should we shoot him?’ and [Gerstein] said, ‘Look!’ [to the computer] and everything went away,” Chris tells PEOPLE.
“I thought I had just watched him die,” Baylee says. “In my mind I’m like, ‘He’s dead.’ ”
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As soon as the connection went out, Chris told his daughter to go to Gerstein’s Facebook and try and find the men they saw on the screen.
Within 20 minutes, Baylee found the attackers’ Facebook accounts — including photos and videos — through mutual friends
“It was just crazy,” she says, adding that they handed over all of their evidence to police immediately.
Victim is ‘Just Shocked’
Austin police confirmed the incident to PEOPLE but declined to comment further, citing their ongoing investigation. They have not named any suspects. But Baylee and her dad say they believe they’ve already identified Gerstein’s attackers.
“It’s important to remember that during these things you must stay calm, call for help and try to get evidence,” Chris tells says. “And that’s exactly what we did.”
Less than 24 hours after the attack, the Facebook accounts Baylee and her father discovered were deactivated.
While Gerstein has spoken publicly about the incident, PEOPLE was unable to reach him for comment. Baylee says since the attack, he has been overwhelmed with the media and is trying to keep to himself: “He’s just shocked. He doesn’t know who to trust.”
Thousands of dollars worth of music, photography and computer equipment was stolen, in addition to Gerstein’s computer, phone and XBox. “Everything that you can think of that’s important to a 19-year-old kid,” Baylee says.
One thing that cannot be replaced is an album Gerstein had recently recorded, according to Baylee.
While police investigate, Baylee and her father say they are thankful nobody else was hurt.
“I have a feeling the only reason it didn’t get worse was because they looked up and saw us on the computer,” Baylee tells PEOPLE. “It’s not just a movie you’re watching, it’s real life.”