HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Three teenagers jumped into action on Long Island to help catch a suspected purse thief.
A 45-year-old woman was walking on Cooper Street in Hempstead around 8:30 p.m. Wednesday when police said she was knocked to the ground and robbed.
The suspect took off with her purse, but according to police, he didn’t get far.
Three Hempstead High School students heard the woman screaming for help and caught the suspect.
“They grabbed him and they knocked him down. A third person that was with them called 911,” Hempstead Police Chief Michael McGowan said. “They responded immediately to her, ran across the street, intervened, put themselves in harm’s way.”
Kevin Seanz, 18, was walking home from dinner Wednesday night, when he was startled by the woman’s screams.
Speaking Spanish, he told CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff that he and two friends wrestled the purse away from the mugger, and that they gave chase when the woman urged them to help catch the man — identified as 52-year-old Jon Cole.
That’s when police said Cole pulled out a tire iron and swung it at the teens. Seanz said eh fought him off with a car key.
The teens pinned him down, and held him there until police arrived.
“They heard her cry for help in Spanish, and they responded immediately, ran across intervened, put themselves in harm’s way,” McGowan said.
One woman said she is thankful for the teens’ actions.
“I think it was nice, bravery and helping our community out,” she said.
Police are investigating if Cole is responsible for similar purse snatchings in recent months.
“The victims have all been Latino women, and they’ve all been approached from behind and for the most part, knocked to the ground and had their purse, pocketbook and cell phone stolen,” McGowan said.
Many of the victims sustained scrapes to their hands and knees.
The victim in the most recent incident suffered bruises. She was taken to a hospital, where she was treated and released.
Cole is charged with second-degree robbery and will be arraigned Thursday. He has an extensive criminal record.