Purse snatchings in Rockville may be related cases

ROCKVILLE, Md. (WJLA) - A Montgomery County Red Line Metro station may be the link to a chain of late evening muggings, one of which sent a 23-year-old woman to the hospital.

In the last week, three women have been forced to the ground, and had their purses stolen, while walking home from the Twinbrook Metro stop in Rockville.

Around 8 p.m. Thursday, a 45-year-old woman was walking through the intersection of Lemay Rd. and Ridgway Ave. when a man grabbed her from behind, and knocked her to the ground. The mugger then pried a purse from her hands and sprinted away toward Twinbrook Elementary School.

Two nights later, an eerily similar crime, three blocks away at the corner of Stanley Ave. and Matthews Dr. Rockville police say a 23-year-old was walking alone around 9:15 p.m., when a man silently crept-up behind her, snagged her purse and then punched the woman in the face. Paramedics transported the Rockville resident to the hospital for head injuries.

"Wow! Right here in the intersection? Yeah it's out of the norm," Pat Turnbow said. "I'm very disappointed. It's a shame, I'll say that, because it's been a great neighborhood," Turnbow, whose mother-in-law has lived in the Twinbrook neighborhood for 30 years, remarked.

Then around 8:45 p.m. Saturday, a 36-year-old woman walking near the corner of Lemay Rd. and Holland Rd. was ambushed. She told police she heard someone approaching her from behind when she was suddenly forced to the cold concrete sidewalk, and dragged until her purse straps broke free. Rockville Police Lt. Brian Paul tells ABC7, a passerby saw the mugging take place and chased the suspect, but lost him in the dark of night.

"I'm just surprised to hear someone got mugged like a block away from here," Nabil Karroumi said. "At night I walk to the gas station. Now I'll have to think twice before walking out of my own house," Karroumi added.

Detectives are now working in coordination with Metro Transit Police to review security cameras at the Twinbrook Metro station, to see if the women were followed from the main platform.

"At night, walking alone, you're sort of prey. That's why I drive to the Metro and park. It's an extra $5 a day, but it's worth it for safety," Bonnie Resnick, who commutes daily from Twinbrook to to Washington, D.C., said.

"Oh my god! This is my first time hearing about it. People are so bold now, they're willing to do anything, to take something that doesn't belong to them. It's really sad that the world has come to that," Metro rider Vera Powell added.

While investigators can't confirm a connection, they acknowledge a strong likelihood due to the sheer proximity in both time and location.

Although the victims in the first two attacks couldn't identify their attacker, the third woman did. Police describe him as as a black male, 6' tall with a thin build and dark skin tone. He was last seen wearing light-brown Timberland-style boots, black pants, dark-blue hooded sweatshirt and a gray baseball cap with a red stripe on it.