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KPD: Purse snatcher nearly runs people over

December 26th, 2013 12:05 pm by Rain Smith

KPD: Purse snatcher nearly runs people over

Thomas L. Castle, 53

KINGSPORT — A man accused of snatching an elderly woman’s purse in a Kingsport parking lot — and allegedly nearly striking several pedestrians with his vehicle while fleeing the scene — has been arrested.

Thomas L. Castle, 53, of Horton Highway in Greeneville, was booked into the city jail on Tuesday. Warrants charging him with auto burglary and aggravated assault were acquired by Kingsport Police Department Detective Justin McConnell immediately following the Dec. 1 incident at Kmart on East Stone Drive.

According to a KPD incident report, a 78-year-old shopper was loading purchases into her vehicle at about 3:10 p.m. A pickup later determined by police to be driven by Castle, pulled into an adjacent parking spot.

The woman threw her purse in the back seat before sliding behind the wheel of her vehicle. Before she could drive away, Castle allegedly jumped out of his vehicle, opened a back door to the woman’s car, and grabbed her purse. When he attempted to drive away in his truck, the elderly victim shouted, “He stole my purse!” which prompted several other Kmart customers to attempt to come to her aid.

One obtained the tag number on fleeing vehicle, while another stepped in front of the truck. McConnell said a review of surveillance footage revealed that Castle accelerated and nearly ran over the woman.

According to the police report, Castle then threw his vehicle into reverse and began backing up, at which point a male shopper attempted to make him stop. Castle allegedly paid the man no heed, continuing backward and nearly wedging the man between his pickup’s rear and another vehicle.

Before driving out of the parking lot, according to witness statements, Castle said out of his window that the woman yelling about her purse “is crazy.” All witnesses described Castle similarly, while a female passenger in his vehicle kept her face covered throughout the incident. 

The alleged victim’s purse contained multiple credit cards and a small amount of cash, between $10 and $15.

McConnell said witness statements, the tag number provided to police and a review of surveillance footage positively identified Castle as the suspect. He was recently arrested in Cocke County on unrelated charges, at which time that agency came across his warrant out of Kingsport.

Castle was transported and booked into the city jail on Tuesday evening. He remained held for arraignment as of Thursday morning.

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