Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

St. Petersburg firefighters foil purse snatching

ST. PETERSBURG — Firefighters tackle emergencies every day — blazes, car crashes and medical emergencies. On Sunday, three St. Petersburg firefighters doused a different type of emergency: a purse snatching.

The rescue unfolded about 1:30 p.m. That's when firefighters Brad Williams, Lt. Randy Kahle and their crew were returning to their downtown station from a call.

As Fire Engine No. 5 approached 22nd Avenue N near 34th Street, Kahle saw something suspicious: a man running across the street with something in his hand, Williams said. They pulled over and realized the something was a purse.

"He saw us and turned to walk towards Sweetbay (Supermarket)," Williams said. "The lieutenant said to check the guy out."

Williams said the firefighters called police and approached the man, who by now was stuffing the contents into his pocket.

The man said he found the bag and was attempting to return it. But the firefighters pressed him about what was in his pockets.

That's when, Williams said, the man dropped the purse and fled.

Williams and Kahle gave chase. Patrick Bennison, an off-duty fireman who had been inside shopping, joined the pursuit. The firefighters detained the man until police arrived.

As officers showed up, so did "at least seven" witnesses, Williams said. The man was a panhandler who, minutes earlier, had snatched the bag of an elderly woman who had obliged his request for 50 cents, authorities said.

Williams said detaining people is not part of their training. But in this case, instincts took over.

"We're here to serve the citizens of St. Pete, whether it be fire, accident, heart attack or purse snatching," Williams said. "You see something going wrong and we mitigated the problem."

Further information was unavailable late Sunday night.

St. Petersburg firefighters foil purse snatching 05/29/11 [Last modified: Monday, May 30, 2011 9:17am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Tampa heading into several tough budget years

    Local Government

    TAMPA — Less pain now, more pain later.

    The Tampa City Council will hold a final public hearing on the proposed 2018 city budget and property tax rate at 5 p.m. Thursday on the third floor of Old City Hall, 315 E Kennedy Blvd.
  2. The Daystarter: Rick vs. Rick 2.0 tonight; Bucs' McCoy says some fans cross line; Trump associate to testify; helicopter crashes onto Odessa roof


    Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what you need to know today.


    Rescuers respond to a crash of a small helicopter on the roof of a home in the Odessa area on Monday. [Hillsborough County Fire Rescue]
  3. No toll lanes north of downtown Tampa in three of four interstate proposals


    TAMPA — Express lanes may not be coming to downtown Tampa after all. Or at least not to the stretch of Interstate 275 that goes north through Bearss Avenue.

    Seminole Heights resident Kimberly Overman discusses the new interstate options with V.M. Ybor resident Chris Vela (left), Hillsborough County Commissioner Pat Kemp and HNTB consultant Chloe Coney during a Tampa Bay Express meeting Monday night at the Barrymore Hotel. [CAITLIN JOHNSTON  |  Times]
  4. Trump associate Roger Stone to talk to House panel in Russia probe


    WASHINGTON — The House intelligence panel will interview two of President Donald Trump's associates behind closed doors this week as congressional committees step up their investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

    Roger Stone talks to reporters outside a courtroom in New York this past March. The House intelligence panel will interview Stone behind closed doors Tuesday as congressional committees step up their investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Fformer Trump staffer Boris Epshteyn also will talk to the House panel. [Associated Press]
  5. Pinellas commission set to discuss next budget, licensing board

    Local Government

    CLEARWATER –– The Pinellas County Commission will be busy on Tuesday.