An East Texas senior citizen tells us about a nightmare scenario. Yesterday, Mattie Spruill was thrown to the ground as a man robbed her in broad daylight. It happened in the parking lot of the Tyler Senior Citizens Center.
The 79-year-old woman was on her way to lunch at the center and saw a black man standing around in the parking lot. "I sat there for a few minutes just watching him," said Mattie. She says she planned to tell the people inside the center about the suspicious man in the parking lot. But she didn't get a chance to do that.
"Just before I got to the sidewalk, he went up behind me and snatched up my purse," she says. The man threw her to the ground, snatched her purse and ran into some nearby woods. "I was so mad he got my purse that I wasn't thinking whether I was hurt or not, I just wanted to get inside to call the police. I was shaking so bad but I think it's from being mad," she said.
Mattie's daughter, Martha Smith, who rushed to her mother's side after the incident, says she was outraged someone would do this to an elderly person. "I was angry someone would violate my mother, would treat a senior citizen that way," said Smith. "It frightened me that he would do something like that in the senior citizens lot, because there's so many of them that are in worse shape than I am, on walkers or walking with a cane and they could be really hurt," says Mattie.
Mattie says she thinks the people at the center have learned a lesson from her experience. "I think it made all of them more aware that they would be able to look around more and be more aware of where they're going back and forth to the center."
If Mattie had the chance to talk to her attacker, she wouldn't have any harsh words. "I don't know what I would say to him. Probably, I hope he enjoyed what he got."
Mattie's mugger is described as a black male in his late teens or early 20s, about 6 feet tall and 200 lbs. He was wearing a short-sleeved, dark blue shirt and khaki shorts. If you saw anyone in the area matching this description, call Tyler police.