Attempted robberies in city are foiled by elderly victims

Published: Sunday, January 9, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 8, 2005 at 11:48 p.m.
Two robbery attempts targeting elderly victims in Gainesville Saturday morning ended with only minor injuries and two penniless suspects running from the law, authorities said.
Gainesville Police Department Lt. Ed Book said the first incident occurred around 11 a.m. in the Mile Run subdivision, when two men approached an 82-year-old man near his house, first to ask for directions, and then to demand money.
Book said the suspects, one possibly with dreadlocks and wielding a gun, had followed the man home from a nearby store.
Neighbors eventually scared the suspects off, Book said, and the victim was able to flee unharmed, wallet in hand.
"They asked him for directions, they had a little discussion about where they wanted to go, and then they tried to grab his pocket," Book said. "He resisted that attempt."
Alachua County Sheriff's Office Lt. Jim Troiano said the second incident occurred shortly before noon, when a 61-year-old woman sitting in her vehicle outside a Publix grocery store on NW 39th Ave. - not far from where the first attack occurred - was approached by a man with dreadlocks wielding a small handgun.
The assailant, believed to be in his 20s, first asked the victim for directions before reaching into her car to strike her in the head with the firearm.
But like the man in Mile Run, the Publix victim also resisted, escaping with minor bruises and no money lost.
"The deputy that took the call said she was a tough lady to withstand the beating from this guy," Troiano said.
Apparently unwilling to put up a fight, the gun-toting suspect fled to a waiting car - possibly an off-white Chevy Camaro or Pontiac Firebird - where a second suspect was waiting.
The suspects' identities are unknown, and Troiano said authorities are investigating whether the two cases are linked. If apprehended, the men could be charged with aggravated assault, burglary and battery, the lieutenant said.
And while both victims managed to fend off their assailants Saturday despite the age gap, Troiano said it's not a strategy he recommends.
"When approached by an armed individual, give in to their commands," he said. "Your valuables are not worth your life."
Anyone with information is asked to call (352) 372-STOP.

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