BANGOR, Maine — Linda Davis, who has two artificial knees and rheumatoid arthritis, was limping slightly Sunday night when she left the State Street One Stop convenience store carrying a hot coffee and a cup of ice.
Davis’ limp is probably why a man identified by police as Stephen A. Frappier, 24, who lists a Skowhegan address, thought she was an easy target and grabbed her purse as she left the store around 8:10 p.m., the 56-year-old Hermon resident said Monday.
“He picked me out because of that,” she said. “There were other women who had just left the store.”
After her purse was grabbed, “I was trying to fight him to keep my purse, but he got it,” Davis said. He yanked on the purse several times and “I couldn’t hold it any longer. The coffee and the ice went flying.”
Once Frappier had the handbag, he took off running. He was pursued by two good Samaritans, who witnessed the attack and attempted to catch the suspect, Bangor police Sgt. Paul Edwards said Monday.
“One of the witnesses who chased the man retrieved the purse after the suspect dropped it while” attempting to escape, he said.
Bangor roommates Joseph Burke and Tyler Heber, both 24, had been on a bicycle ride around the city and stopped at the store, which is at the corner of State Street and Broadway, to get a drink.
Burke held the door for Davis as she came out of the convenience store, and he and Heber were putting their drinks in their bike drink holders when they heard her scream.
“I’m like, ‘Let’s go get him,’” Burke said. “We left everything on the ground and took off after him. I went one way and my buddy went the other way. It was crazy.”
The two good Samaritans chased Frappier until they reached a fence, Burke recalled.
“We all jumped the fence, and he [the suspect] threw the purse,” he said. “I kept chasing the guy and [Heber] grabbed the purse” and returned it to Davis.
Burke said he followed Frappier and was able to point him out to police when they arrived.
The store’s clerk called 911, and Bangor police Officer Michael Brennan arrived within seconds, joined minutes later by Officer Joe Baillargeon, who found Frappier “out of breath and sweating profusely a few streets over,” Edwards said.
He was arrested and charged with felony robbery and was taken to Penobscot County Jail. If convicted of the Class A robbery, Frappier could face a penalty of up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000. His bail was set at $750 during a court appearance Monday, and he remained in jail Monday evening, a jail official said.
“Not only did they get the purse back, but they had good descriptions” of the suspect, Edwards said of Burke and Heber.
Davis’ purse contained a small amount of money but — more important to her — held pictures of her grandchildren.
“It was the two boys that should be given recognition,” Davis said of the men who helped her. “Without them, he wouldn’t have been caught.”
Davis offered Burke and Heber a cash reward, but they wouldn’t take it, she said, adding that one lost his iPod while running after the suspect.
Burke said that even though he lost his iPod, chasing the suspect “was no trouble to us. We just wanted to help. I looked at her and thought of my grandmother.”
Davis said she would forever remember the kindness of Burke and Heber.
“They’re just great,” she said. “Some kids wouldn’t have bothered. It was a very selfless thing they did. I really want to thank them from the bottom of my heart, not just for my purse, [but also] just for doing it.”
She added later, “They are my heroes, that’s for sure.”