Police: 14-year-olds accused in violent Ocoee purse snatching

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OCOEE, Fla. - A teen is in detention after police charged him in a violent purse snatching at an Ocoee Publix.

According to investigators, 14-year-old Gary Cox confessed to going after Charlotte Dunaway, 74, who ended up in the hospital.

The attack was recorded by surveillance cameras earlier this month.

The video allegedly shows Cox and two other teenagers grab the purse and knock Dunaway to the ground. She suffered a head injury and broken bones.

The lead investigator on the case told Channel 9 reporter Renee Stoll that the victim's stolen credit cards were being used and that led to more surveillance video, and more charges in the case.

Ocoee police investigators said Cox can be seen in the Publix surveillance video taking Dunaway's purse and in the process knocking her to the ground.
Shortly after the incident, Dunaway told Channel 9 she was seriously injured when she hit the ground.

"I had a brain injury and my brain was bleeding and I had broken my clavicle and was bruised up and down," she said.

Dunaway said she regained consciousness at the hospital and the injuries made it difficult for her to move around.

Her daughter, Kristi Tilton, said Dunaway now suffers from severe dizziness.

Tilton was shocked when she found out the suspect was so young.

“They’re thugs looking for money. Unbelievable at 14 years old,” she said.

Investigators said that immediately after the crime they didn't get as many tips as they expected, but they were able to trace where Cox and two other teens allegedly used Dunaway's stolen credit cards. They said they were able to collect surveillance video of the teens using the credit cards.

"Those video images gave us car descriptions. Those cars came back as being stolen, and as part of where the cars were stolen and a couple other things the investigation led to, it's these three kids," said Lt. Mike Bryant with the Ocoee Police Department.

When police decided to charge Cox in the Publix incident, they learned that he and two other 14-year-olds they were seeking were already in the Juvenile Detention Center, accused of using stolen credit cards and having stolen cars.

Those other two teens had a combined 26 felonies, police said.

Teenagers are typically released from the detention center after 21 days, but Bryant said he doesn’t believe the state attorney will allow that to happen.

“Our work is cut out for us because I think we need to push the state attorney. There are certain Florida statutes that require mandatory adjudication as an adult,” Tilton said.

So far, Cox is the only one charged in the Publix incident. He is charged with robbery and with aggravated assault on an elderly person, which is a felony.