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80-year-old woman robbed, knocked to ground in Akron's Merriman Valley

Suspected purse-snatcher caught on camera, arrested
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Posted at 6:03 PM, Feb 06, 2023

AKRON, Ohio — Donna Shea loves the life she has built with her husband, Ron, in Akron's Merriman Valley. The couple has been married 51 years.

"A retired grandmother, a gardener, I love to cook. I love my home. I love my family," Shea said. "I love my church in the valley and I love the people there. I's a good life."

What happened to the 80-year-old woman Saturday afternoon is something she never could have imagined in her beloved neighborhood.

During an interview with News 5, Shea removed a bandage covering her right arm revealing a bright laceration left behind after part of her skin was peeled off during a robbery in front of pizza shop.

"Thou shalt not steal. That is one of the commandments and that's what they did," Shea said.

Shea drove to Gionino's on North Portage Path around 4:45 p.m. to pick up an order of chicken, but as she approached the front door, a stranger grabbed the senior, stole her purse and knocked her to the pavement.

"He ripped so hard, it pulled me forward and that's when I fell," Shea said. "He pulled it off so hard, it ripped the skin and I had a winter coat on and two shirts underneath that."

Surveillance video from The Buckeye Smoke & Vapor store captured the suspect— wearing a hoodie and clutching a purse— running through the plaza before disappearing behind the building.

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Surveillance video of the alleged purse snatcher.

Diana Owen, owner of the Gionino's shop, witnessed part of the heartless crime go down and immediately went into action.

"It was unbelievable. I was sad. I was very upset," Owen said.

Owen chased after the thief briefly, but he seemingly vanished. Police said he got away in a blue Kia Sorento. Owen then returned to help the stunned senior citizen.

"I was all over it. I wanted to take care of her and comfort her and she was emotional," Owen said.

In the meantime, officers converged on the area, developed additional evidence and spotted the suspected getaway car at a BP gas station on Grant Street.

Shea's purse and credit cards were found in the vehicle. Two men, both 21 years old, were arrested and booked into the Summit County Jail. One of the men was charged with robbery. The other was charged with complicity to commit robbery.

Ron Shea said the crime in an area he considers to be very safe made him feel "stripped to the core."

"You watch all these programs on TV and you never fathom that something like that could happen to you and this was right on our doorstep. It was really shocking that it was down in the valley," he said.

Despite the terrifying ordeal, Donna Shea is choosing to look at the positive. She's grateful to Owen, police and the community's support.

"It could have been a lot worse. I could have broken a hip, shoulder, everything. Thank God I didn't," she said.

Aside from a lesson from the Ten Commandments, the couple believes the crook needs to learn something else: respecting your elders.

"Go out and work for a living instead of stealing from other people," Donna Shea said.

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