Police: Woman fights off purse snatcher

33-year-old arrested after speeding off

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A man who tried to snatch a purse off a 64-year-old woman's shoulder was arrested Sunday night after the woman fought back, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.

Police were called to Rowe's Supermarket in the 5400 block of Blanding Boulevard on the Westside about 8 p.m.

Toni Simmons said she was in the parking lot after leaving the store and was standing near the back of the car loading groceries with her purse on her shoulder. Police said a SUV driven by 33-year-old Corey Bowman (pictured below) drove up next to Simmons, got partly out of the vehicle, grabbed her purse and began pulling on it.

Jacksonville Sheriff's Office booking photo of Cory Bowman

"For the first second I was startled when he pulled up and half jumped out of the vehicle and grabbed at my purse," Simmons said. "And for the next second I thought, 'OK, he may have a gun or a knife, but I said if I can get up on him, he's not going to have a chance to use it. So then I went to fight and survival mode."

Simmons, who had throat surgery three days ago, did what the attacker didn't expect.

"As he was grabbing, I was pulling, and then the blows started flying," she said. "I am not afraid and I am just not going to allow someone to violate me like that. If it's my time to go, it's my time to go, but I'm not going to deal with it."

Simmons told police she looked at Bowman and said, "Oh, hell no, mother (expletive)," and began fighting him for her purse.

Simmons' daughter-in-law heard the racket.

"She left the front of the car coming toward the back, and we were still in a death rattle for my bag," Simmons said. "When he saw her coming, he just quickly put his other leg back in the car and sped off around the back of Rowe's."

Simmons' daughter-in-law called 911, and police also said a teenage witness spoke up and gave police the description of the suspect vehicle. They said the description was put out to all units, and an officer spotted a SUV matching the description at Catoma Street and Timuquana Road. The vehicle was stopped and the suspect was later positively identified by the victim and witness, police said.

Investigators said Bowman targeted another victim earlier that day and pulled a purse off a woman riding a bicycle on 105th Street, breaking the straps.

Bowman was arrested and booked into the Duval County jail.

"I've always been a fighter and I've never been a quitter," Simmons said. "And I was just determined he was not going to get it, and I felt also that he had committed these kinds of crimes previously and it was up to me to stop him.

"He thought that I was vulnerable, and like I said, I'm 64 and he probably felt that I wasn't paying attention, so he was going to take advantage of it, but boy was that his mistake."

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