92-Year-Old Woman, Shoppers Fight Back in Purse Snatching

By: Jason Tarr Email
By: Jason Tarr Email

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UPDATE: Friday, August 31, 2012

Several nasty bruises aren't what a 92-year-old Wichita woman expected to bring home with her groceries Thursday.

"I'm surprised I didn't also hit my head," said Margaret, who has asked to only be identified by her first name.

The 92-year-old had just finished loading her car in the parking lot of Dillons at Central and West in Wichita at about 4 p.m. That's when her shopping trip took a scary turn.

"As I closed the trunk lid, I saw an arm reach across. I turned around and a man was trying to grab my purse," she said.

But the 51-year-old white male purse snatcher was in for a surprise.

"I think he thought I was elderly and that I would be an easy victim but he found out it didn't work that way," she said.

Margaret began screaming and putting up a fight.

"I would not let go of that purse. I hung onto it. He pulled me along for a ways until I finally couldn't hang on to it," she said. "Everything happened so fast that it's like a big blur. The next thing I knew I was on the concrete spread out full-length."

By fighting back she got the bruises but she also got the attention of other shoppers.

"Our suspect tried to run with the purse but he was met by our good samaritan," Lt. Doug Nolte of the Wichita Police Department said. "This individual grabbed and wrapped up the suspect."

But the suspect bit the man's finger and got away. In the process, he dropped the purse and hit his head, cracking his skull.

That's when more witnesses jumped in to help.

"Two other individuals went and intervened and grabbed this individual and held him until 911 was called," Lt. Nolte said.

Margaret says she thinks her guardian angel was watching over her.

"They weren't afraid to go after a guy doing wrong," she said. "So many people don't want to get involved. But they did get involved."

Margaret says she realizes that if they hadn't have gotten involved, this story could have had a much different ending. She just wishes she knew their names so she could express her gratitude.

"If any of you guys that helped me see this: thanks," she said. "I really thank you."

The suspect was taken to Wesley Medical Center with serious injuries Thursday. Police say in the late afternoon Friday, he was released from the hospital and immediately taken into custody. Police say he will likely face charges of aggravated robbery and aggravated battery among other charges.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Wichita Police are crediting bystanders for stopping a thief who tried to snatch a purse from an elderly woman.

It happened in the Dillons parking lot, near Central and West, around 4 p.m. Thursday.

Authorities said a 92-year-old woman was approached by a 51-year-old man in the parking lot. The suspect tried to grab the woman's purse, and knocked the victim to the ground. The woman held on to her belongings, and was dragged across the parking lot as the suspect tried to run away.

Three people witnessed the incident and called 911. One of the witnesses confronted the man, forced the suspect to the ground. The suspect bit the bystanders finger and ran away.

As the suspect was running across the parking lot, he was tackled by a second witness, and held until police arrived.

The suspect was taken to a nearby hospital to be treated for a skull fracture. He was released from the hospital and booked into the Sedgwick County Jail. The woman suffered minor injuries.

The woman's purse was returned.

Police said the man will be arrested on aggravated battery and aggravated robbery charges.

KAKE's Jason Tarr talked with the victim. Hear her story tonight on KAKE News at 5.

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