Bystanders thwart purse snatching

NILES — Bystanders thwarted a Boardman man’s attempt to snatch a woman’s purse over the weekend at Applebee’s and the man is now facing charges of endangering children because he left his children in a parked car as he tried to run away, according to a police report.

Jeffrey Linam II, 31, of Matthews Road, pleaded not guilty Monday and is due back in court in January for a pretrial. Linam was charged with theft and marijuana possession and two counts of endangering children, according to Niles Municipal Court records.

Linam didn’t make off with the purse because he was stopped by Applebee’s workers and patrons. He left his children, ages 5 and 10, in a car as he tried to run away after being confronted and chased by the good Samaritans, according to a police report.

Witness Brian McWilliams told police he saw Linam snatch a purse from a woman seated across the bar, so he chased Linam, grabbed him and told him to drop the purse. Linam dropped the purse, apologized and ran away, according to the report, but another witness, Matthew Smith, along with two Applebee’s managers, chased him to Dairy Queen, where they held him until police arrived. Police said they found a marijuana joint in Linam’s front pocket when they searched him for weapons, the report states, and he then told them his kids were in a car at Applebee’s.

Smith, a veteran of the Marine Corps who serves in the Army Reserves and also works as a correctional officer in Pennsylvania, said he was having dinner with McWilliams and some other friends from the Camp Ravenna Joint Military Training Center Saturday, which was Veterans Day. Linam picked the wrong purse to snatch given the military presence at the bar that day, Smith said, adding that McWilliams is a police officer in Indianapolis.

“It’s second nature when something like that happens to react,” Smith said. “We just took off after him.”

Linam’s children were turned over to their mother, and police said endangering children charges were warranted because the two girls were young and it was very cold outside. Linam was released from the Trumbull County Jail Monday afternoon.