Cops: Unsuccessful purse snatcher pepper sprayed elderly woman in face

Published: Sep. 28, 2011 at 5:54 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 8, 2011 at 5:55 PM EDT
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A surveillance image of the suspect. (Source: Columbia Police Department)
A surveillance image of the suspect. (Source: Columbia Police Department)

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Columbia police are looking for a man accused of pepper spraying an elderly woman in the face and attempting to steal her purse.

A similar attempted purse snatching incident was captured on surveillance video at a local store on the same day, police said.

The first incident happened just before noon on Tuesday at the Aldi grocery store located at 7610 Garners Ferry Rd.

The 72-year-old female victim was walking in the parking lot when she says a man pepper sprayed her in the face before trying to steal her purse. The suspect, however, was not successful in stealing the purse.

Witnesses believe the suspect arrived to the store in a brown/tan/or gold car, possibly a Chevy Malibu or Impala before approaching the victim.

The second incident occurred at 5422 Forest Drive about 30 minutes later at the Hobby Lobby store.

Investigators said the man is seen on surveillance video and pictures attempting to steal the purse of a woman who was sitting on a bench at the main entrance to the store. Just as in the first attempt, the suspect was not successful in stealing the purse, police said.

Witnesses say the suspect ran away from the store towards a brown/tan/or gold car.

The description of the suspect from both incidents is similar. The man is described to be a black male, approximately 5 feet 8 inches tall, possibly weighing 180 pounds, wearing a white T-shirt and light colored pants.

Police Chief Randy Scott encourages citizens with information about this crime to call, text or submit online, their anonymous tip to Crimestoppers in any of the following ways:

CALL toll-free, 888-CRIME-SC. TEXT to CRIMES (274637), and mark the beginning of the message with "TIPSC," followed by the tip information. LOG onto:, and click on the red "Submit a tip" tab.

Tipsters could earn a cash reward of up to $1,000 for information leading to the arrest of the suspect.

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