‘You messed with the wrong family’: Hawaii teen thwarts mugger in New Orleans

NEW ORLEANS — A mugger in New Orleans thought a family walking along the French Quarter would be easy pickings, but he quickly paid for his mistake.

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The would-be thief did not expect to tangle with Masina Tupea, 18, a powerlifter from Hawaii who deadlifted 319 pounds when she was 15, NOLA.com reported.

So when Augustus Taylor, 36, grabbed Luisa Tupea’s purse and dislocated her jaw with a punch on Dec. 28, Masina Tupea ran after him, the website reported.

“He literally came out of nowhere,” the college freshman, who plays volleyball at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island, told NOLA.com. “He punched my mom square in the jaw, and she went down almost immediately.”

Masina Tupea said she struggled with Taylor, who punched her in the face, Hawaii News Now reported.

She was able to grab Taylor by the back of his shirt and tackled him, NOLA.com reported. She pinned his legs so he couldn’t escape while a crowd of about 40 people watched while her mother called the police, the website reported.

“I got up. I’m stumbling. I can’t see out of my left eye and I tackled him and he tries to tackle me into this car first ... but I essentially threw him under the car and pinned him to the ground,” Masina Tupea told the television station.

“He was telling me to let him go. I was like, ‘Shut up. You’re not going anywhere,’” Masina Tupea told NOLA.com. “I kept repeating, ‘You messed with the wrong family.’

“I’m an 18-year-old girl. I don’t look that strong, but I’m actually really, really strong,” she added. “That man was not.”

Taylor was arrested and charged with one count of purse snatching and two counts of simple battery, NOLA.com reported.

Taylor has pleaded guilty four times in New Orleans to battery charges: domestic abuse battery in 2010, simple battery in 2011 and aggravated battery in 2012 and 2014, according to the website.

To Masina Tupea, Taylor’s record did not matter. Foremost in her mind was making sure her family was safe.

“I needed to protect my family,” she said. “That’s all I could think about.”

And the mugging did not stop the family from continuing their vacation. They enjoyed some of New Orleans’ attractions, including enjoying the beignets at Cafe du Monde and taking in the jazz clubs on Bourbon Street.

“I was determined to make sure this didn’t ruin our trip,” Masina told NOLA.com. “My parents told me that stuff happens, but you can’t let stuff like that affect how you perceive places. Although it sucks it happened to us, we’re glad someone like that is off the street.”