ST. PETERSBURG — A 47-year-old man randomly choked a 95-year-old woman in a wheelchair who was trying to get off a county bus outside the Palladium Theater, according to police.
John Joseph Lockwood was arrested Sunday on charges of burglary with assault or battery and battery on a person 65 years or older. St. Petersburg police said he may be suffering from mental illness.
According to a police report, the incident took place around 2 p.m. Sunday as a county bus brought patients from the Magnolia Gardens Assisted Living Facility in Pinellas Park to see a play at the theater, 253 Fifth Ave. N.
The female driver had opened the rear door and was helping the victim maneuver her wheelchair onto the lift, police said, when Lockwood jumped through the doorway.
Lockwood said nothing, police said, as he wrapped his hands around the victim's throat. The driver tried to jump in between them and called for help. Lockwood knocked the driver to the floor but she got up again to help the victim, police said.
Then Lockwood suddenly stopped, police said, jumped off the bus and ran away. The driver's screams led a theater security guard to find Lockwood nearby and hold him until police arrived.
The victim was treated for minor injuries at Bayfront Medical Center and released later Sunday. The driver was unharmed.
Lockwood, of 434 Fourth St. N, was being held in the Pinellas County jail on Tuesday in lieu of $60,000 bail.
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