The three Southern utility workers who came to the aid of an 80-year-old mugging victim and her husband -- and nabbed the suspect -- were called heroes Wednesday by Nassau County police.
"I would be remiss if I did not give credit to the three heroes who came to the aid of our victim, retrieved her pocketbook and held the defendant until police arrived," Nassau County Insp. Kenneth Lack said at a news conference.
Diesel truck mechanic Lee Snoddy, 38, foreman Brent Bernard, 45, and lineman Robbie Jarman, whose age was not given are the three men who on Tuesday helped police in the arrest of Brian P. Maher, 29, after he allegedly grabbed a woman's purse on Jericho Turnpike and Ingraham Lane in New Hyde Park, according to Third Precinct detectives.
Maher, who has no known address, came up behind the couple and tried to take the woman's purse, police said. Her husband, 82, tried to hit Maher with his umbrella.
Snoddy, stopped at a red light in his truck, saw the assault develop and Maher punch the husband, police said. He jumped from his truck to help.
"It was like, 'Really?' " said Snoddy, of Turkey Creek, La., "When he hit the old man, I just ran."
Snoddy chased the suspect for a block. "When I jumped him from behind, he went to the ground and threw his hands out to catch himself," Snoddy said.
More concerned about the couple, whom he described as Asian, Snoddy left the man and returned the purse to the woman, who thanked him in her language, he said.
"She was bowing and saying 'Thank you,' I'm sure," he said.
Police said the woman's husband was treated at a hospital and released.
Snoddy's friends from the Echo Powerline utility company had been several cars behind him in their half-ton pickup truck when they saw him run.
Bernard said he jumped from the front passenger seat before the truck had even stopped.
"I didn't know at first what he was running after, but I looked ahead of him and I saw a guy in a red hoodie and I could tell it was guy and he had a woman's purse in his hand . . . I just opened the door and jumped out because I didn't want Lee just by himself with this guy," Bernard said.
As Snoddy retrieved the purse, the suspect took off running, so Bernard and Jarman, who lives in Mississippi, pursued him for almost two blocks before catching him.
"I grabbed him by the shirt, and before he started swinging, I just tripped him to the ground," Bernard, of Glenmora, La., said. "I got behind him and put him in a choke hold."
Lack said Wednesday that Maher apparently saw the couple waiting at a bus stop. "It certainly would have been much harder" to catch the mugger if the line workers hadn't caught him, Lack said. "But because they gave chase and apprehended him, it made all the difference in this case."
The three utility workers have been on Long Island making storm-related repairs since Oct. 31, two days after superstorm Sandy struck.
Colleagues of the "hero" workers joked they'd have to get them Batman masks and Superman shirts, according to Bernard and Snoddy.
Bernard said he told the police, "Not only do we get the power on, we do some crime fighting for you."
With Gary Dymski