Couple stops Walmart purse-snatching suspect

Lee Allen Tacke charged in West Melbourne robbery

By Erik von Ancken - Anchor/Reporter

MELBOURNE, Fla. - If it weren't for Marlene Houldsworth and her boyfriend, Mark Dow, a purse-snatching suspect likely would still be on the loose.

Late Friday night, the couple witnessed a man take a 57-year-old woman's purse in the parking lot of the Walmart in West Melbourne on Palm Bay Road. The purse-snatching was also caught on surveillance video.

"I said, 'He just stole her purse,' and she threw her arms up in the air, and she was screaming, 'Help!'" said Houldsworth. "All I'm thinking is, 'I can see where he's running and I can see him looking back to see if anyone's following him,' and I was punching the gas as hard as I could."

In their Ford pickup truck, Houldsworth and Dow chased the suspect through the Walmart parking lot and into the neighboring Chick-fil-A parking lot, even following him the wrong way through the drive-through.

Eventually, Houldsworth said she bumped the suspect just enough to make him lose his balance.

"I get out of the car and I'm running at him like I'm gonna' tackle him," said Houldsworth. "And then he threw his arms up and he's like, 'I'm sorry I'm sorry,' and I pushed him to the ground with all my force."

"I yell, 'No!' She pushes him down and I jumped on top of him and put him in a choke hold and held him until the police showed up," said Dow.

West Melbourne police told Local 6 they arrested Lee Allen Tacke, 30, of Melbourne.

Police said witnesses noticed a pocketknife hidden in Tacke's pocket. He was arrested and charged with robbery by sudden snatching. Tacke has since bonded out of jail.

Local 6 spoke with the woman who was robbed. She chose not to be identified, but said she is extremely grateful for the Good Samaritans who came to her rescue.

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