By MONIQUE FIELDS
St. Petersburg Times, published November 4, 2000
CLEARWATER -- This is a story about an 80-year-old woman, her yellow New Beetle and a would-be carjacker.
The woman had just finished filling her 2000 Volkswagen with recent purchases at Countryside Mall on Thursday afternoon when a man in his 30s yanked open her driver's side door.
"Move over, lady. I want your keys," he said.
"No, you don't," she said.
He should have believed her.
The woman, whom The St. Petersburg Times is not identifying because her attacker still is at large, went on the defensive, pushing her hands into the man's chest.
"He started hitting me, so I started hitting him back," she said.
He swung back, battering her about the head and trying to shove her into the passenger seat, she said. He told her he had a gun and he could use it.
The man reached over her, locked the passenger door and knocked off her glasses.
At that moment, she said, she made up her mind: "He's not getting me."
At some point, the car keys dropped to the ground, but the woman held onto her house keys, which she tossed into the backseat of the car. He reached over her to get the keys, and she bit him on the arm.
That's when he got angry.
The man punched her "John Wayne-like" in the jaw four times, she said. While he was hitting her, she was stretching her right leg across the car. Her shoe had come off earlier, exposing her toes.
She used her big toe to jiggle the door lock and flip it into the unlocked position. The man saw what she was doing and leaned into the car and moved the button into the locked position.
"Uh-oh," she thought.
Determined, the woman once again used her big toe to pop the lock.
"He was trying to get me over to the passenger seat, and I wouldn't go," she said.
Outdone, the man screamed a slew of curse words and exited the car, she said. He drove away in what Clearwater police think was a stolen, dark-blue, two-door car. He has not been arrested.
The woman immediately went to the mall police and informed them of her fight with a man young enough to be one of her 18 grandchildren.
"He didn't know who he was messing with," said the woman's daughter, Margie Blue of St. Petersburg.
He didn't know the woman was a little stubborn, or that she is the mother of 11 children, the first seven of them boys, Blue said.
He also had no way of telling that the woman was the owner of the hip Beetle, which she picked out just weeks before her 80th birthday because she thought it would be nice toy.
Police say the woman was feisty -- to say the least.
"His actions were those of a coward," said Clearwater police spokesman Wayne Shelor. "Hers were pretty gutsy."
Law enforcement officers usually tell residents to comply with attacker's demands, especially if that person has a gun. But Shelor said this case was different.
"To me, this woman is a feisty young lady and capable of looking out for herself," he said.
During the past 12 months, there were two assaults at Countryside Mall, one with injuries.
There also were five batteries and four robberies or attempted robberies, police said.
"To me, those are relatively small numbers," Shelor said.
The woman suffered a hairline fracture in her jaw and is sore. Doctors advised her to apply cold compresses to her jaw and hot compresses to alleviate swelling in her neck.
Still, police said, it appears she got the best of her attacker.