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Armed purse thief strikes in Hilmar
Suspect fired at witness attempting to get photo
Hilmar purse thief
Anyone who might have information about this incident or the person suspected of stealing the Hilmar woman’s purse is asked to contact the sheriff’s department at 385-7445 (Photo contributed).

The Merced County Sheriff’s Department is on the hunt for a suspect who on Sunday stole a woman’s purse at gunpoint and then fired shots at a witness.

The witness was not struck by any of the gunfire, according to the Merced County Sheriff’s Department.

The robbery reportedly happened around 4:30 p.m. Sunday in the area of American Avenue near the Hilmar Covenant Church. A woman was walking her dog when she was confronted by a man who was armed with a gun. The suspect stole the woman’s purse and then ran from the scene.

The robbery was done in view of a couple of witnesses, who gave chase after the suspect. Another witness in a vehicle started taking pictures of the robber and he turned and fired several shots at her, according to the sheriff’s department. This was in the area of Fourth Street and Birch Avenue.

The robber got into a vehicle that had pulled up next to him. The vehicle sped off with at least one witness chasing after them while reporting the incident to the sheriff’s department. The witness lost the vehicle in the area of Mitchell Road. It was last seen heading towards Kelly Road.

One witness was able to get a profile picture of the suspect, which has been shared repeatedly on social media sites.

“Hilmar is such a small town and most everyone knows each other, but so far no one has recognized the suspect,” said Merced County Sheriff spokesman Dep. Daryl Allen.

The vehicle the suspect fled the area in was described as a pewter or tan older model Honda Accord, possibly 2000. The license plate was bent in half and could not be read.

The woman who had her purse stolen was not located by the sheriff’s department, Allen said.

Anyone who might have information about this incident is asked to contact the sheriff’s department at 385-7445.