83-year-old Woman Sprays Gasoline On Would-be Mugger

SANTA FE, N.M. — An 83-year-old great-grandmother thwarted a would-be purse snatcher with a gas nozzle and an iron grip.

Bernie Garcia said a young man approached her at a gas station as she was buying fuel for her van and asked for money. When she told him she had spent all her spare change on gas, he tried to grab her purse.

"But I had it wrapped around my wrist twice," Garcia said, and he was unable to pull it away.

She fought back, spraying his shirt with some gasoline. Both of them kept hold of the purse, and he pulled her to the ground and dragged her a short distance until another man confronted him.

The second man demanded, "Turn her loose, you something something," Garcia said.

The would-be mugger jumped into a nearby vehicle and fled. But a witness got the license plate number, and minutes later, police stopped the car. It had been reported stolen from Espanola, said Santa Fe Deputy Police Chief Aric Wheeler.

Garcia and a witness identified one of the men inside as the attacker. He and two other men in the car were charged with robbery and conspiracy.

"They got caught and I'm so glad," Garcia said.

She said she felt fine after the attack, and police say she declined medical attention at the scene. But when she got home, she said, she felt faint and went to bed and woke up Thursday very sore. Her son, a former firefighter, checked her out and found no broken bones.

"My son said, `Why didn't you just give (the purse) up?'" Garcia said. "`Hell no,' I told him. That was my purse. I was fighting for what was mine."


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