Man dressed as Santa shocks eyewitnesses who say he beat up a 74-year-old woman

Published: Dec. 12, 2004 at 4:24 AM EST|Updated: Dec. 12, 2004 at 9:13 PM EST
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(Atlanta, Georgia) Dec. 11, 2004 - A man decked out as Santa Claus, complete with jolly red suit and gifts, stunned holiday shoppers. Police say he picked up a two-by-four and started pounding a nearby woman passing out religious fliers.

Elkin Clarke, the man dressed as the Santa, says the woman was stealing from him, "She was stealing my stuff. I asked ten to 15 times not to touch my stuff."

The man who called 911 says he saw the alleged attack, "A guy dressed in a Santa suit, had taken a board and swung and hit her and knocked her to the ground and proceeded to hit her again."

Marcus Felder was having lunch at the time and says it was surreal, "He crossed over Broad Street and after he crossed Broad Street, he began to do a light trot to the train station." That's when police arrested the Santa on charges of aggravated assault.

Eyewitness Aisha Albritton says that she was in danger as well, "I started screaming at him, 'What are you doing? Stop!' And then he comes at me, with a boulder, and my roommate starts screaming my name, and I start backing up. And I told him, like I'm sorry, sorry. We ran and called police."

Police say the woman attacked, Annie Ruth Nelson, 74, was knocked unconscious in the fight. They say she was taken to Grady hospital.

The suspect accused her of stealing boxes of Hershey's chocolates from him, worth about $145. Witnesses could not confirm the alleged theft.

Posted 11:25pm by Chantelle Janelle