Police: Purse snatcher nabbed by 3 teens in Hempstead

Police say three teens helped apprehend a robbery suspect in Hempstead who snatched a woman's purse.



John Cole, of Hempstead, was in Hempstead court Thursday to face robbery charges. Authorities say he may also be behind a string of muggings dating back to October.



Police say Cole, 52, snatched a purse from a 44-year-old woman on Main Street in Hempstead Village Wednesday night. According to police, Cole knocked the woman down before running off.



The woman gave chase, as well as three teens who were walking home from Taco Bell at the time. They say they heard the woman's call for help and jumped into action.



Kevin Saenz, 18; Mozart Lopez, 18; and Johny Gmatute, 16, caught up to Cole, who then allegedly brandished a tire iron and struck one of the teens in the hand.



Hempstead Village Police Chief Michael McGowan says one of the teens used pepper spray against Cole and was able to subdue him until officers arrived on the scene. McGowan called the actions of the teens "heroic."



Investigators say Cole may be responsible for up to nine other recent muggings in the village. Chief McGowan says the incident follows a pattern of robberies against Latino women.



Police say the female victim hurt her knee when she was pushed to the ground.



Cole was held on $20,000 bail.


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