Purse snatching leads to police pursuit in Gilbert

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Johnathan Winston Churchill By Jennifer Thomas Johnathan Winston Churchill By Jennifer Thomas

GILBERT, Ariz. -- Gilbert police arrested a homeless man and juvenile after they allegedly grabbed a woman's purse then led officers on a pursuit Wednesday afternoon.

According to the Gilbert Police Department, the 68-year-old Mesa woman was walking with groceries to her car at Gilbert and Baseline roads when a silver Nissan Maxima driven by Johnathan Winston Churchill, 24, pulled up alongside her.

Sgt. Bill Balafas said the female juvenile got out of the car and grabbed the woman's purse from the shopping cart. The victim reached into the car to try to get her purse back and was knocked to the ground as the vehicle sped away.

The juvenile tried to use the victim's credit card to buy gas but was not successful and discarded the purse in a garbage can, according to court documents.

A patrol sergeant spotted the suspect vehicle and a police pursuit ensued. Balafas said the Maxima reached speeds of up to 100 mph and ran a red light.

Another officer was able to deploy stop sticks, which flattened two of the vehicle's tires, and the suspects were taken into custody.

Churchill was booked into Fourth Avenue Jail for one count each of aggravated robbery, aggravated assault, unlawful flight and reckless driving.

The 17-year-old was booked into the Maricopa County Juvenile Jail for one count each of aggravated robbery, aggravated assault and fraudulent use of a credit card.