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JSO: Teen arrested after woman injured in purse snatching at Walmart

Jacksonville police say attack happened in Westside Walmart parking lot

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A teenage boy was arrested Tuesday in connection with a purse snatching that left a 66-year-old woman injured, authorities said.

On Monday, the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office released surveillance photos of two people who police said were involved in the attack earlier this month at a Westside Walmart.

The next day, police announced that both pictured had been identified through numerous social media tips, but only one of them, 15-year-old Nathan Blizzard, had been arrested and charged with strong arm robbery.

According to police, Rhonda Williams suffered injuries to her head and hand on Jan. 8 when the 15-year-old grabbed her purse from her in the Walmart parking lot on Normandy Boulevard while the teen's accomplice stood by. 

"I noticed some boys coming in the opposite direction and probably in four to five seconds, somebody started pulling on my pocketbook," said Rhonda Williams, who still had a visible bruise on her hand two weeks after the attack. "I mean, I was holding it like this and, I mean, was pulling back and then, finally, he, kind of, let up and when he did, he just jerked it as hard as he could and threw me on the street."

Williams told News4Jax that she hit her head as she fell to the ground.

"I was crying and screaming, 'Somebody help me,'" Williams recounted. 

She said witnesses rushed to help her and they even chased after the two, but they got away. 

Williams, who had an abrasion on her head and a bruise on one of her hands after the snatching, said she later learned her purse had been ditched in a nearby neighborhood after tracking her phone on the Life360 app.

Williams said she feels sorry for Blizzard and his partner. 

"My heart goes out to them," she said. “I would like to see you boys turn your lives around and think about what you did but it got you nowhere but in deeper trouble that will probably follow you the rest of your life."

Williams also encouraged others to be aware of their surroundings. 

On Tuesday, when News4Jax went to the address listed for Blizzard on his arrest report, the person who answered the door chose not to comment.

Though the second person has been identified, according to the Sheriff's Office, police are still investigating his involvement in the Jan. 8 purse snatching. Detectives also said they are investigating a second purse-snatching case involving Blizzard and his accomplice.

Shoppers startled by purse snatching 

Shoppers were shocked to learn of the attack.

"(It's) very scary if you ask me. I'm not used to living in a city. We haven't been here that long and it's kind of scary," Peggy Caudill told News4Jax on Monday.

"It makes me a little nervous for people who can't take care of themselves," Mike Caudill said, adding that the attack is another reason why people need to be prepared to protect themselves. "I'm not opposed to carrying guns if they need them. But I would definitely say pepper spray or Mace." 

In the meantime, Walmart is using solar-powered surveillance cameras, which are angled in every direction, to look out for any potential problems in the parking lot.


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