Reward offered for info in violent purse snatching

NOW: Reward offered for info in violent purse snatching

NILES, Mich. -- Niles Police are still searching for the person who violently ripped the purse from the hands of an 80-year-old woman leaving a church downtown. The incident was so brutal, the victim had to be taken to the hospital. Her fellow parishioners are shaken and the community is outraged.

A $500 reward is now being offered for the suspect’s arrest.

“We’re shaking our heads. We’re perplexed,” Brenda Engle said.

Members of the New Journey Methodist Church were shaken up by the incident, which was captured on surveillance video.

“It looked like it was probably not planned or anything, it was probably a crime of opportunity,” Niles Police Captain Mike Dawson said.

The victim, who has not been identified, was just leaving the church after helping out at a funeral.

She was taken to the hospital with a major shoulder injury.

“Any time that you get to a certain age, bones can break easily,” Engle said.

Engle, a fellow church member and secretary at New Journey Methodist, says they’re all still trying to make sense of what happened.

“I don’t understand why something like this has to happen, especially outside of a church and after a funeral where someone was helping out. It just doesn’t make any sense and it makes it even worse,” Engle said.

Police are still looking for the suspect who was wearing a white hoodie, black hat and was riding a bike with yellow tires.

“We have had two local citizens who have donated $500 for a reward, which will be used if someone provides information that leads to an arrest,” Dawson said.

The church is increasing security because of the incident. Anyone going outside will be escorted.

Engle says she’s disappointed.

“It’s a real shame that they felt that they had to do that. I hope that they think twice before they take someone else’s property or injure someone just because they think that they need some money or something,” Engle said.

The victim’s recovery will take some time.

If you have any information in this case, please contact the Niles Police Detective Bureau at 269-683-0404.

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