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94-Year-Old Fights Back During Purse Snatching

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) — A 94-year-old woman, the victim of a violent purse snatching, says she fought back during the Monday morning incident at Southland Mall.

“Well, I’m bruised but I’m okay,” said Kathleen Johnson, who spoke out just one day after a CBS4 camera crew captured her speaking with a Miami-Dade Police detective at the mall after the crime.

“What were you thinking when this happened to you?” asked CBS4’s Peter D’Oench.

“I was mad….but I have to be true about it. He did not attack me. He wanted that pocketbook and my hurts are from my fighting back,” Johnson said.

She said she was walking in the mall with her pocketbook on her shoulder when the group came up behind her and one of them grabbed her pocketbook. That’s when she turned to face them.

“I grabbed it back and then he grabbed it again and when he pulled it off, you know, he bruised me,” said Johnson.

“I wasn’t afraid for my life,” she said. “I realized he was after the purse. What was in the back of my mind is that I wanted to get it back. Aside from my credit cards and jewelry and a cell phone, it has my Stirling silver rosary. You can replace the other items but you can not replace that. I am very emotional and sentimental about that.”

“I have cuts and bruises in my lip and the area near some teeth feels bruised,” she said. “And I am cut and bruised all over my arm and it goes to my thumb.”

The same day she spoke about the incident, those involved including a 14-year-old were due in court facing grand theft charges.

The teen, just one of four people arrested by police, faced a judge who ordered the teen to remain in custody until his next hearing on May 15th. He is charged with strong armed robbery.

The other suspects, of which two others are also juveniles ranging from 12 to 14, were also expected in court Tuesday.

“I feel that it’s too bad that these young boys have to do these things,” said Johnson. “I raised two boys and they didn’t have anything like that happen to them. I feel that it’s too bad that these young boys have to do these things. There are so many things that they could do to better themselves than to hurt somebody else. I would like to see them get counseling.”

The other person charged in the case is 27-year-old Charles Fowler Jr. who is facing charges of grand theft, driving with a suspended license, and fleeing and eluding police.

Circuit Judge Mindy Glazer set bond at $10,000, saying “If he won’t stop for a police officer, how do I know he’s going to come to court.”

Fowler objected, saying “I wasn’t driving. I was not driving the car. If I get caught driving, I am going to jail. I was not driving at all.”

Investigators said the suspects took part in the robbery at the popular shopping center then took off in a stolen Hyundai Sonata that crashed into a police unit and Miami MacArthur South Senior High School.

The crash prompted a school lockdown. No one at the school was hurt. Five people were detained for questioning, four of which were arrested.

D’Oench also spoke with the brother of one of the juveniles arrested.

Louis Vazquez said, “For him to be pulling things like that, it’s not acceptable. He was hanging out with the wrong crowd. Out on the streets, you can be hanging out with the wrong crowd but it was his choice. He should not have done it.”

Officers say the suspects also snatched another purse from a 60-year-old woman at the mall earlier.

As for Johnson, she has a message for the accused.

“I would like them to get some kind of counseling,” she said.

When asked if she would fight back again, Johnson said, “of course I would…Isn’t that in your nature to react that way when someone does that to you and takes your property?”

She said she still planned to keep driving her car for shopping trips and did not plan to change her habits.

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