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Man nabs purse-snatching suspect

June 02, 1997

A man who saw a man snatch a purse on South Potomac Street Sunday morning chased him several blocks, tackled him and held him to the ground until police arrived, Hagerstown City Police said.

James Eugene Ahalt, 22, of 301 Summit Ave., was charged with one count of robbery, second-degree assault, destruction of property and theft, police said. He was being held Sunday night at the Washington County Detention Center in lieu of $25,000 bond.

The robbery occurred at about 10 a.m. on the first block of South Potomac Street, police said.

A woman, whom police would not identify, was walking down the street when a man ripped her purse off her arm and ran away, police said.

A witness, whom police would not identify, caught the man on the 200 block of Summit Avenue.

Harold Wills was near his home on Summit Avenue when he saw two men running, he said. At first, he said he did not realize what he was seeing.

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"He risked his life by going after the other guy," Wills said. "I think that's quite a heroic act."

Hagerstown City Police Sgt. John Ryder, however, cautioned that racing after a robbery suspect can be dangerous. He said it is usually better to call the police.

"That's what we're here for - call us," he said.

The purse was recovered, police said.

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