Man steals praying woman's purse

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Ronald Slavin By Jennifer Thomas Ronald Slavin By Jennifer Thomas

MESA, Ariz. -- Police officers arrested a 44-year-old man they say snatched a woman's purse while she was praying inside a Mesa church Saturday morning.

A 51-year-old woman was kneeling in prayer in front of a pew at the Queen of Peace Catholic Church near MacDonald and Second Street shortly before 8 a.m.

Mesa police Sgt. Ed Wessing said the woman heard someone rustling through some papers that she had on the pew beside her. She turned around and a man grabbed her purse, which was also on the pew.

Wessing said the victim tried to pull her purse away from the man, but he pushed her down. The woman injured her knee in the scuffle.

The suspect then fled the church. Officers found him in an alley behind some Main Street businesses and the woman's purse was found in a nearby Dumpster.

The suspect, Ronald Slavin, had just released himself from Arizona Regional Hospital where he was being treated for injuries sustained during an alleged vehicle burglary and aggravated assault against police officers Friday evening.

Slavin was booked into Maricopa County jail on new charges.