MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Three suspects were arrested after an 81-year-old woman was attacked and robbed in an East Memphis Kroger parking lot, and police say they admitted to two similar crimes.
Amberly Rankin, 25; Colby Neagle, 18; and Michael Patton, 18, were arrested Tuesday.
According to a Memphis Police report, the woman was walking in the parking lot of the Kroger at Sanderlin and Mendenhall on Monday around 5 p.m. when she suddenly felt a sharp jerk on her shoulder. She then fell to the ground, giving her bruises, scrapes and a gash on her head.
At some point during the incident, a suspect took the victim's cross-shoulder purse that had a crystal Rosary inside, which is all the victim said has sentimental value.
The value of the stolen items was estimated to be $135. The victim's keys and wallet were in her hand during the robbery and weren't taken.
The victim was taken to Baptist Hospital in non-critical condition and had four staples put in her head.
Two witnesses who saw the robbery left the scene before police arrived, but the victim told officers the witnesses saw a male suspect grab her purse and flee the scene in a blue Scion.
Kevin Shea, who had just gotten to the Kroger during the attack, said he had to dodge the suspects' Scion speeding out of the parking lot.
"The other car almost hits me as they're pulling out but then they stop just before they actually make it into the street, and the third guy jumps into the back of the car holding a purse, then they just take off," Shea said.
Then, Shea's instincts kicked in. He and a friend took a mental note of the car and license plate.
Shea and his friend shared their information with those helping the woman, but they weren't the only observant customers. Several other people were able to describe to police the vehicle make and tag number.
Shea said he was stunned the accused thieves would be so brazen to strike when they did.
"It was just before 5 o'clock," he said. "The parking lot was packed full of people. There were cars everywhere."
Early Tuesday morning, officers spotted the vehicle believed to be used in the crime not far from where it occurred, and all three suspects were inside the vehicle.
Patton appeared to match the person who committed the robbery that was caught on Kroger's cameras. Officers also said Rankin's child was in the car and had to be picked up by a babysitter.
The victim, who was too shaken to be on camera, said she's thankful. She could've been hurt much worse, and she's grateful to all the people who helped her.
"When we see something going wrong, we come together to fix it and to make it better," Shea said.
Rankin, Neagle and Patton are charged with aggravated robbery.
According to court documents, after police stopped the trio on Walnut Grove, all three admitted to taking part in two previous purse-snatchings. One happened at the Cheesecake Factory on Germantown Parkway on July 28 and another at Lowe's on Germantown Parkway on Aug. 4.
The victim and her husband in the Kroger incident said they forgive the suspects, but they just want them to get help.
Kroger said they do have security on site and police frequently patrol the area.
In a statement a spokesperson said, "We are saddened by the recent incident at one of our Memphis area stores. We are working with our local law enforcement to assist as much as possible with this active investigation."