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2 arrested in purse-snatching at Bealls in south Fort Myers

Writer: Derrick Shaw
Published: Updated:

Two people have been arrested in a violent purse-snatching at a south Fort Myers Bealls store – and their victim has a lot to say about it.

Lee County deputies say Kelly Marie Berry, 25, and Stefan Dwayne Rease, 24, are facing charges for the crime.

The robbery happened Friday outside the Bealls at 13300 S. Cleveland Ave. Deputies said Friday that a man attempted to take the purse off a woman near the entrance of the store. She held onto it and was dragged 10 feet before the man ran off with the purse, surveillance video shows.

Witnesses chased the man, who jumped into a dark red vehicle, which was also caught on surveillance video. That helped investigators track down the suspects, who were arrested Monday on Michigan Avenue in Fort Myers.

Berry is facing a charge of robbery by sudden snatching. She was released early Tuesday on $2,500 bond.

Rease faces charges of robbery by sudden snatching and battery on a person 65 or older. He’s being held on $75,000 bail at the Lee County Jail.

The 75-year-old victim suffered a broken foot and expressed anger over the ordeal.

“I’m angry; yes, I’m angry,” said Ruth Rice.

“He grabbed the purse and I wasn’t giving it up. I was very angry that he should do such a thing.”

Her sister-in-law gave chase to the suspect.

“She’s running after him, and yelling at him you son of a….”

Rice lost her purse and faces a long recovery.

“I knew right away something was wrong. I looked at my foot and it was all crumpled up.”

Her foot was broken in multiple places.

“I have to go have an operation on Wednesday, and he’s going to put a plate in here, a screw in here, a screw in there, a plate in there, a screw in there, all these places where I have injuries. It’s going to take me a few months before I can walk on it,” she said.

Rice also has a message for other women.

“Don’t take everything you own in your purse when you’re going shopping, just a couple of credit cards with you, and get your Walmart bag out, not your best bag,” she said with a laugh.

Rice says she and her husband moved here from North Carolina just two months ago, not exactly the start to their retirement the couple hoped for.

Her sister-in-law says she wishes she were stronger, faster, and had a bag of bricks on hand to throw at the suspects.