Thursday, January 18, 2018
Public safety

Couple recall fight with gun-wielding purse snatcher

ST. PETERSBURG — Gary Trangas ran around the car and suddenly realized he was out-matched.

The man dragging his girlfriend held a gun. Trangas, 66, clutched a shovel.

"I wanted to get his a--," he recalled Saturday. "When you got your lady being attacked, you want to do as much as you can to protect her."

That was Friday, in the middle of the day, in front the house on 33rd Avenue N near 33rd Street that Trangas shares with Lagrimas Porquia, 65.

On Saturday, Trangas was home recovering from two gunshot wounds. White bandages covered his arm and chest and a bullet still lodged in the soft tissue of his back. Drops of his blood stained the driveway.

The suspect, who fled without the purse he had been attempting to snatch from Porquia, was still at large. He is described as a black man, about 20 years old, 5 feet 10, and wearing a dark T-shirt covered by a dark flannel shirt. He rode away eastbound on 33rd Avenue on a turquoise beach cruiser-style bike.

Porquia and Trangas were leaving for the eye doctor about 1:20 p.m. when the man rolled up on his bike, dropped the bike, pointed a gun at Porquia and demanded her purse.

The petite part-time housekeeper said no. A tug-of-war began.

"I was begging him: 'I have nothing, please don't do this to me,' " she recalled.

The man pistol-whipped her. She fell to the ground, and he kept pulling on the purse.

Trangas grabbed the shovel from the back of the Kia, ran to the passenger side and raised the tool above his head. He saw the handgun, heard two shots but felt nothing. The man fired two or three more shots, then rode away.

One bullet traveled through his forearm. Another pierced his eyeglasses and their case in his left breast pocket, then ripped into his chest. Surgeons decided that removing the bullet would cause more damage.

A CAT scan confirmed Porquia did not suffer a serious head injury. She and Tragas were released from the hospital Friday evening.

By Saturday, the couple had regained some semblance of normalcy. A cool breeze carried the scent of baking brownies out the front screen door. Porquia's daughter and young granddaughter, who also live at the house but weren't home at the time of the shooting, kept an eye on the oven.

Porquia moved to Florida from her native Philippines in 1999 and is in the process of buying the house. Trangas, a retired handyman, was born and raised in St. Petersburg and still owns his childhood home on 25th Avenue near Ninth Street.

"All the years I've lived here, I've watched things go down the tube," he said.

The couple met on an online dating site three years ago. Since then, Trangas has had both hips replaced and has been diagnosed with lymphoma in his sinuses. The prognosis is still unclear. Still, he calls Porquia "my lifesaver."

They feel relieved to be alive and sad about feeling less safe. They're thinking about getting out of town, at least for a while.

"The world could be ours," Trangas said, "if we go out and grab it."

Tony Marrero can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8779. Follow @tmarrerotimes on Twitter.

Comments
‘All I see is fire’: 911 calls released from Florida casino boat fire

‘All I see is fire’: 911 calls released from Florida casino boat fire

PORT RICHEY — The first call came into emergency dispatch at 4 p.m. on Sunday from shore, reporting a ‘giant’ boat on fire in the Pithlachascotee River."It’s urgent," the caller said.Others followed quickly, one woman crying as she described from her...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Gibsonton man faces 50 counts of child porn

Gibsonton man faces 50 counts of child porn

GIBSONTON — A 46-year-old man was arrested Wednesday by Florida Department of Law Enforcement agents on 50 counts of possession of child pornography and one count of promoting a sexual performance by a child.Authorities said they received several tip...
Updated: 9 hours ago

He still has nightmares: Deckhand recalls prior casino boat fire

Cory Byrd said he still has nightmares about the smoke. In them, he is back in the cabin of the Express Shuttle II, scrambling to reach the white rectangle of an open door. The smoke was so thick, he said, you could barely see an outstretched hand. ...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Pinellas sheriff, feds announce changes to controversial immigrant detention policy

Pinellas sheriff, feds announce changes to controversial immigrant detention policy

LARGO — For years, county sheriffs in the United States have faced a quandary when asked by federal officials to hold undocumented immigrants in their local jails. They could continue to hold them for up to two days past the time they were legally fr...
Updated: 9 hours ago
McDonald’s manager gets ovation at Seminole Heights investigation ceremony

McDonald’s manager gets ovation at Seminole Heights investigation ceremony

TAMPA — Delanda Walker, the McDonald’s employee who gave police the tip that led to an arrest in the Seminole Heights slayings, received a standing ovation Wednesday during a ceremony thanking citizens who helped in the investigation.Mayor Bob Buckho...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Casino company set to sail again Thursday after deadly boat fire

Casino company set to sail again Thursday after deadly boat fire

PORT RICHEY — Tropical Breeze Casino Cruz said it plans to reopen on Thursday and resume shuttling passengers back out to its gambling vessel in the Gulf of Mexico three days after a boat fire forced 50 passengers and crew to abandon ship.The 72-foot...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Man robbed while responding to Craigslist sex ad

Man robbed while responding to Craigslist sex ad

HOLIDAY — A man responding to a Craiglist ad for sex was instead robbed by the boyfriend of the woman he was meeting, sheriff’s deputies said. Robert Roser, 39, of Holiday claimed he was part of a police sting operation before taking $60 and two blue...
Published: 01/17/18

Teen, 14, arrested on charges of bringing loaded gun to Plant City High School

PLANT CITY — A 14-year-old high school student was accused of bringing a loaded gun to campus on Tuesday, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.Deputies arrested the boy after 3 p.m. at Plant City High School after administrators foun...
Published: 01/17/18

Plant City family attacked, robbed during early-morning home invasion

PLANT CITY — A 63-year-old woman was unloading items from her car when two men forced her into home at gun-point and threatened to kill her and her family, according to Plant City police. The woman arrived to her home on the 2700 block of Barrett Ave...
Published: 01/17/18
Deputies release name of homicide victim in Tampa’s Grant Park neighborhood

Deputies release name of homicide victim in Tampa’s Grant Park neighborhood

Hillsborough County deputies are conducting a homicide investigation after a man was found dead in the Grant Park area of Tampa late Tuesday or early Wednesday morning.Deputies say 22-year-old Elijah Moore’s was found in the 3700 block of Carroway St...
Published: 01/17/18