Flushing assemblyman intervenes in purse snatching

By Madina Toure

State Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-Flushing) helped stop a mentally ill man from stealing a young woman’s purse early Thursday afternoon by holding him down until police came.

Kim and his staff were walking toward Main Street on 38th Avenue at about 12:30 p.m. when he saw a 25-year-old man running very quickly, sprinting down Main Street as a 29-year-old woman in a white dress and a Good Samaritan in his 30s chased him.

He noticed a crowd at the corner from which the suspect had started running.

The woman was on the phone with her husband and the man told Kim that the suspect tried to rob the woman of her purse. When they tried to stop him at the corner, the suspect pushed them and ran off, the woman said.

He saw an elderly woman and infant child in a stroller, who he said was the woman’s mother and daughter.

“My wife, my daughter Olive and my mother, they walk the streets every day and I just wanted to make sure that they were okay and safe and tried to stay with them until the police came,” Kim recalled in a telephone interview.

As he was walking down the street, one of the store owners came out and asked him if he was looking for the suspect. The owner said that the suspect ran into a restaurant.

Kim then called 911 to give the police a description of the purse, the incident and where the suspect was hiding when the young man appeared again but in a different outfit.

He was initially wearing what Kim believed to be a long sleeve-shirt or sweater and pants but had taken off his top and was wearing shorts. He also had a garbage bag, which Kim thinks contained his clothes.

While he was still on the phone with the 911 operator, Kim said the suspect had gone into panic mode and he put the phone down as he was concerned the suspect might hurt him. He and the Good Samaritan then held the suspect down as he was speaking to the operator.

“I wasn’t anticipating a confrontation,” he said. “At that second, I decided I had to put my phone (down) and when he was approaching near me, I decided to take him down.”

Kim said he hopes the incident serves as a reminder for the community to take care of individuals who suffer from mental illness.

“It’s really important that we try to help individuals like him who obviously had some mental illness,” he said. “I did want to take this opportunity. I’ve been following up with the precinct all day trying to get a better sense of who he is and where he came from.”

Reach reporter Madina Toure by e-mail at mtour[email protected]local.com or by phone at (718) 260–4566.

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