71-year-old man and friend in wheelchair nab robber | PostIndependent.com
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71-year-old man and friend in wheelchair nab robber

KINGSTON, Pa. (AP) ” The young woman probably thought the 71-year-old Korean War veteran, whose friend was in a wheelchair, would make an easy target. She was wrong.

Harry Kopenis (ko-PEN’-is) chased and tackled the 22-year-old woman he says robbed him at an ATM in northeastern Pennsylvania. Then, with help from his friend in a wheelchair, he held her until police arrived.

“Maybe she thought I was easy prey. She didn’t think I was going to get her. Well, senior citizens aren’t easy prey,” Kopenis said.



Police charged Erin Vanmatre, of Kingston, with robbery, harassment and other offenses. Vanmatre, who was on probation for conspiracy to commit theft, was locked up on $10,000 bail. It wasn’t clear if she had an attorney.

Kopenis said he’s not sure how he was able to catch Vanmatre, considering he suffered a stroke five years ago and is on various prescription medications. He pointed to the sky and said, “It was a source up there who gave me the energy.”



He had gone to an ATM near his Kingston home Monday morning and withdrew $100 when Vanmatre allegedly knocked him down, took his money and fled.

Kopenis’ friend, Kevin Lamb, was nearby in his electric wheelchair. Both men took off after her. Kopenis got her to the ground and Lamb grabbed her leg.

“She wasn’t going anyplace then,” said Lamb, 56, who uses the wheelchair due to breathing problems.

Kopenis said he thought about not pressing charges, but she continued to resist and gave him a kick to the leg.

The men weren’t seriously injured.


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