Man Beaten and Robbed at Gunpoint as Girlfriend Watches on FaceTime

Yale Gerstein, 19, was talking online with his girlfriend on Sunday when he heard what he thought was scratching on his apartment's door in Austin.

A Texas college student was robbed at gunpoint by three men who forced their way into his apartment and viciously beat him as his girlfriend watched helplessly on FaceTime, he told

Yale Gerstein, 19, was talking online with his girlfriend Sunday when he heard what he thought was scratching on his Wichersham Lane apartment’s door in Austin, he said.

“It sounded like a cat or a dog, so I said ‘hey, there’s some noise, let me go look,’” Gerstein recalled. “I went and walked to the front door and it stopped. I put my foot in front of the door, and as I opened the deadbolt, the door exploded in my face.”

The Austin Community College student and music producer said three strange men, all armed with guns, assaulted him as they barked orders.

“They’re pistol whipping me … telling me, ‘don’t stand up, don’t look at me, shut up.’ They’re running through my room, they took my Mac Book, took some of my school [music] equipment … all sorts of stuff,” he said. “They dragged me by my hair to my bed, and they’re asking me, ‘hey! Who’s that on the computer?’ I didn’t even think that she was still on there. Honestly, you aren’t thinking about a lot when you’re getting pistol-whipped.”

But Gerstein’s girlfriend, Baylee Luciani, was watching from her Dallas home and after quickly realizing that what she was witnessing was not a joke, she started grabbing screen shots of the nightmare unfolding.

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“She was taking screen shot after screen shot after screen shot, the computer just kept flashing,” Gerstein said. “[The suspects] are yelling ‘who’s on the computer?’ and then one guy just hits me really hard.”

After the men disconnected the computer in an effort to end the FaceTime, they ordered Gerstein to stay put and fled, he said.

“One of them ran up to me and said ‘I will blow your head off if you try to follow us,’” he said.

But Gerstein said he watched as they left in a white vehicle that resembled an old police cruiser before running to his neighbors for help.

“They had taken my cell phone—I couldn’t call anybody. My neighbor called 911, but it turned out my girlfriend had also called and they showed up as my neighbor was on with the police,” he said, so grateful for his girlfriend’s quick thinking on FaceTime. “She used software on a computer to get a variety of clear frame images of these guys … that were [able to be] given to detectives the night of. That’s just something.”

Gerstein was left with a fractured nose and countless cuts and bruises after the ordeal and said he has since moved from the apartment that was broken into. He said he’s lost thousands of dollars’ worth of music equipment and most importantly, all the work he had painstakingly produced — including his first album as a solo artist.

“I really wanted to put out my album and get notoriety from that, not something like this,” he said.

He described the suspects as all wearing gloves and said one was wearing a Halloween ghost mask similar to the famous mask worn in the movie Scream. Another suspect had a tattoo on his shoulder, he said. He recalled the third carried a blue backpack that had a brown bottom and brown handle.

Austin police said Thursday that they cannot release much information at this time, citing the ongoing investigation.

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At this point the robbery is being investigated as an isolated incident, a spokesperson told

In the meantime, Gerstein said he’s left to rebuild his life and move on.

“I’m having this post-traumatic situation in my mind, I just keep reliving it,” he said. “I went from literally just going to school, producing music and a normal day to then, you know, a nightmare after answering the front door.”

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