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Man arrested in connection with Land O'Lakes purse snatching

LAND O'LAKES — A mask covered his face.

The man didn't say anything to Betty Stottlar, a 77-year-old who had just gotten in her car in the parking lot of the Kmart at 22920 State Road 54 on the morning of Feb. 11. She opened her car door and sat down when the man appeared.

He grabbed her purse, a soft brown leather one her daughter-in-law got her for Christmas. This was only the second time she'd used it.

The man ran to a black car that had its engine running. She believed another man drove.

Stottlar chased the car and got its license plate number.

It wasn't until a deputy arrived and pointed something out to her that Stottlar realized the attack wasn't random: The man, or men, had picked her out, targeted her, waited for her.

Two of her tires had been punctured by what appears to be an ice pick.

"They spotted me," Stottlar said. "They knew they were going to work on me."

One of the men was arrested Tuesday, according to the Pasco Sheriff's Office. His name is Damany Shamar Forrester. He's 24 and lives in Land O'Lakes. As of the fall, he was a student enrolled at Hillsborough Community College. Forrester is charged with robbery by sudden snatching. This is his first Florida arrest, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Investigators "said he was very remorseful," Stottlar said. "I don't believe that. It's just a show."

Pasco sheriff's spokesman Doug Tobin would not comment on other possible suspects still at large, citing the ongoing investigation.

Stottlar feels lucky she wasn't hurt. She said her stolen credit cards were used to buy gas and cigarettes and a $40 pair of shoes. With her purse stolen, she had to get a new driver's license, voter's registration, credit cards. She told her son she wants to get a gun, but he talked her out of it.

"I wouldn't want to kill anybody," she said.

She's just going to keep her purse in her trunk from now on, shopping light, a credit card and her driver's license in her pocket. She's not terrified or angry, just concerned about the world in its current state, where a 77-year-old woman feels she can't carry a pocketbook in daylight.

"It's rotten," she said.

Forrester remained at the Pasco jail Wednesday evening in lieu of $5,000 bail.

Times researcher Shirl Kennedy contributed to this story. Erin Sullivan can be reached at esullivan@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6229.

Man arrested in connection with Land O'Lakes purse snatching 02/23/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 23, 2011 8:49pm]
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