Man robbed, beaten with his own walker outside Walmart

- A St. Petersburg man was knocked down, beaten and robbed, in broad daylight, in a Walmart parking lot.

The 66-year-old victim, an Army veteran, was using a walker at the time. He said the suspect actually beat him with that walker, and then stole that, too. It's the kind of crime that leaves many shaking their heads.

"I was doing better before this happened," said Jeffery Hardeman.

Hardeman was recovering from a leg injury. He well enough to get around with a walker instead of a wheelchair. Little did he know, the walker would make him a target.

Last Friday afternoon, he was walking toward Walmart on 34th Street North when a man approached him.

"He went by me and then he came back and asked for the time," Hardeman recalled. "I told him the time and he said, 'what?' and he came up to me. Then he grabbed me around the neck and started choking me, punched me in the side and head and he was grabbing for my stuff."

Hardeman was thrown to the ground by an attacker he describes as a man in his late 20s or early 30s.

"[He] told me, 'don't yell.' And, I yelled," Hardeman said. "Then he threw me to the ground and he took my walker and started hitting me with the walker."

Police say the suspect got away with more than $600, plus Hardeman's walker. 

"There was a bag tied to it and he probably didn't want to take the time to untie it," Hardeman said, "unless he needed a walker."

St. Pete police said witnesses saw what happened. They yelled at the robber to let Hardeman go. They saw the suspect get into a blue Dodge Durango with a license plate that may begin with "G-K-A."

Despite some bruises and sore ribs, Hardeman, for the most part, is okay. He's now walking with a cane, not just for mobility.

"I'm much more comfortable with a cane because at least I have something to defend myself with now," Hardeman said.

He hopes police catch this guy and the person who helped him before it happens again.

"They are crazy to do it, and to hurt people, you know?" Hardeman said. "If they think they can do it once, they can do it again. But eventually, one way, they will get caught."

Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to contact the St. Petersburg Police Department at 727-893-7780.

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