Purse snatching incident ends with suspect in the river

WAVY/Walter Hildebrand

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – A wild scene unfolded in Norfolk Monday afternoon.

Police say it all began shortly after noon when a man tried to snatch someone’s purse inside the Sentara Norfolk General Hospital Emergency Room. Police say the suspect was in the E.R. for a treatment. Someone witnessed what the man was trying to do, and informed an off-duty officer. Officer Daniel Hudson with Norfolk police said the suspect then fled the E.R. as the officer approached him.

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According to Hudson, the man then took off in a Jimmy John’s delivery vehicle that was left running nearby the E.R. The delivery driver and vehicle owner was inside a building making a delivery.

Less than a mile away, at the intersection of Colley Avenue and Front Street, witnesses told WAVY.com the suspect crashed into a fence.

“He pulled into the field, actually up onto the yard, and spun out in the dirt,” said one witness, who did not want to be identified for the story.

The witnesses said the suspect appeared to follow other cars in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers parking lot. Then he drove toward the Corps of Engineers security gate.

“He drove through the fenced in yard, he went out to the point, out to the tree, he left his car behind the tree with his flashers on,” explained the witness. “And then he got out and he ran to the end of the point.”

Witnesses then saw the man dive into the Eliabeth River. Some witnesses threw him a life-preserver and the man returned to shore, where police were waiting for him.

According to Hudson, the man was taken to the hospital for evaluation. He is not facing charges at this time, but Hudson said he may, pending the results of the evaluation.

An employee at the Jimmy John’s on W. 21st Street, where the driver works, said the driver is OK. He did not see the man take his car, which has since been impounded by police.

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