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Carjacking victim, 91, fought back

ST. PETERSBURG — As 91-year-old Beverly Landrey tried to yank a carjacker from the driver's seat of her crossover, she thought immediately of her husband.

"He loves the Venza," Landrey said. "And I wasn't going to let anyone get our Venza."

Landrey was driving to the Fresh Market on Thursday afternoon to buy blackberry ice cream for her husband, Bill.

On the way, a pickup driven by a young man bumped the rear of the Toyota crossover. She got out, scolded the man about texting while driving, then drove away.

Moments later, the pickup pulled up in front of her and blocked the road at 23rd Avenue N near Seventh Street.

As she got out of her Venza, a second man slipped into the driver's seat. Landrey reached in and tried to pull the man out of her car.

"I went after the guy," Landrey said. " 'You're not gonna get our car. Get out of our car.' "

He shoved back and Landrey flew backward, falling on her buttocks, then her head.

The pickup and Landrey's Venza took off.

Landrey lay in the road, yelling for help.

"I didn't see a soul,'' she said.

A woman and a man showed up and called police. Landrey was taken to Bayfront Health St. Petersburg, where she was treated for a bump on the head.

An hour later, an officer saw the Venza and tried to stop it. But the car took off, leading police and a Sheriff's Office helicopter through the streets of St. Petersburg.

The Venza smashed into four other cars before it was abandoned in a residential neighborhood.

Travonte B. Banks, 19, and Savon J. Hunter, 20, both of St. Petersburg, were arrested about 30 minutes after the pursuit began. Both men were charged with multiple offenses, including fleeing, eluding and resisting arrest.

Banks and Hunter were taken to the Pinellas County Jail, where they remained Friday in lieu of $112,150 and $400 bond, respectively.

Police say Hunter may not have been involved in the carjacking but was Banks' passenger during the chase. A police spokesman said a third man, still at large, may have helped Banks steal the car.

The carjacking reminded Landrey of an incident decades ago in Paris, where a man tried to steal her wallet. She chased him and hit him until he gave it back.

Her husband, a foreign correspondent for the St. Petersburg Times, now the Tampa Bay Times, contacted her from Yugoslavia to tell her never to attack a thief again.

"You don't know what you're going to do until it happens," Landrey said.

Her latest encounter has drawn widespread publicity and was featured on the popular website Drudge Report. Some are referring to her as feisty.

"I've got courage in many ways," Landrey said. "You just gotta keep doing it, keep doing it, and don't let people do things to you."

Times researchers Natalie Watson and Carolyn Edds contributed to this report. Claire Wiseman can be reached at cwiseman@tampabay.com or (727)-893-8804. Follow @clairelwiseman on Twitter.

Carjacking victim, 91, fought back 02/28/14 [Last modified: Saturday, March 1, 2014 12:11am]
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