Just Another Guy with Opinions

Great-Grandma fights off Purse Snatcher

Posted by shadmia on March 15, 2008


83-Year-Old Bernie Garcia is no push-over. Would-be purse snatcher, 20-year-old Angelo Trujillo, found this out the hard way. Bernie may be a great grandmother but she has the heart and the fight of a lion. Angelo Trujillo and two of his buddies were in a car, on Wed. March 12th, watching the 83-year-old Bernie pump gas at “Smith’s” supermarket on Cerrillos Road in Santa Fe. He got out and approached her, asking if she could give him some money.

“I thought, ‘What a sweet guy’ at first when he asked me for money,” the Santa Fe great-grandmother said in a telephone interview. “For me, I don’t judge anybody.”

Garcia told the man — who had a goatee and several tattoos — she’d just spent all her spare money on gas and had none to give him. But instead of taking no for an answer and walking away, the man grabbed Garcia’s purse and tried to snatch it away. “But I had it wrapped around my wrist twice,” Garcia said.

While Trujillo was trying to wrestle the purse away from Garcia, she realized that she still had the gas hose in her other hand and proceeded to spray him with gas. Trujillo still refused to let go of the purse and pulled Garcia to the ground and dragged her for a short distance on the pavement. That was when a man who was also at the store, saw what was going on and intervened.

“He went up to (the assailant) and said, ‘Turn her loose you something something,’ ” Garcia said.

When accosted, Trujillo ran to the waiting car, jumped in and fled. Fortunately the man’s wife was able to write down the license plate and description of the car. The police were called and 3 minutes later they stopped a 1989 Oldsmobile Cutlass — which turned out to have been stolen from Española — on U.S. 84/285. Garcia and an eyewitness both identified one of the men inside as the alleged attacker and the others riding with him as those who were waiting in the car at the time of the attack. Click the image below to see the interview with Bernie Garcia.


Garcia said she felt fine after the incident occurred, and police said she declined medical treatment at the scene. However, after she got home, Garcia said she began sweating and feeling faint and went almost immediately to bed. Then she woke up Thursday morning and really felt the effects of her ordeal.

“This morning, I couldn’t move,” said Garcia, whose son, a former firefighter, checked her for broken bones and found none.

Garcia has a big bruise on her hip and a few scrapes on her hands but otherwise, she’s fine.Angelo Trujillo, 20, of Chimayó was identified as the man who tried to snatch Garcia’s purse, and was charged with robbery and conspiracy. Also arrested were Jody Martinez, 28, of Truchas, who was charged with robbery and conspiracy, and Julian Romero, 27, of Cordova, who was charged with robbery, conspiracy and concealing his identity.

In January, Trujillo was charged with aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and two counts of larceny in Los Alamos District Court for an incident that occurred in October, according to online court records. Julian Romero has a lengthy criminal history, mainly theft charges, according to online court records. He is set for trial in Rio Arriba County District Court in May on charges of burglary and larceny, and was charged in November in the same court with aggravated burglary and possession of burglary tools for another incident.

“They got caught and I’m so glad,” Garcia said. “We have some good people in Santa Fe. We have the best police force in the world.”

Garcia admitted she could have been seriously hurt, or worse, but is glad she stood her ground.

“My son said, ‘Why didn’t you just give (the purse) up?’ ” Garcia said. ” ‘Hell no,’ I told him. That was my purse. I was fighting for what was mine.”


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