Video: ‘Spunky’ cashier, 91, battles robber

msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 3/12/2010 10:52:12 AM ET 2010-03-12T15:52:12

A 91-year-old pharmacy cashier was punched in the chest as she tried to stop a robber, then calmly went back to work, refusing medical attention.

The man pretended he wanted to buy some candy from Florence Critelli, who works at Rite Aid in East Northport, Long Island, N.Y., but grabbed a handful of money when she opened the cash register.

But Critelli, who reportedly knits and crochets mittens for needy Long Islanders in her spare time, grabbed the thief's hand in an attempt to stop him and received the blow to the chest.

The robber then fled with an unknown amount of money.

However the great-grandmother of 13 shrugged off the incident, which happened at 11 a.m. Thursday, refusing medical help when the authorities arrived and continuing her shift for more than six hours.

Critelli described the robbery to the WPIX television channel: "First he came up with a dollar and he had a piece of candy in his hand, so I rang up the candy, and I opened up the register, and he went to grab the money.

"So I grabbed his arm to stop him, but he hit me in the chest.

"I wasn't scared because I tried to stop him."

'Hit me good'
She told the New York Post that the man had "hit me good," but added that "it didn't hurt."

In addition to refusing a medical exam, Critelli told the Post she had rejected her manager's suggestion that she should ask her son to give her a ride home. Instead, she drove herself — but only at the end of her shift at 5.30 p.m.

"They asked me if I wanted to come home after it happened," she explained to the Post.

"I didn't want to come home. What was I going to do but sit there and be bored?"

"If you just stay home every day, you feel like you can't do anything and you don't want to do anything," she said.

"It's just not the right way to be."

Critelli, who works a 35-hour week and has been an employee at the pharmacy for 17 years, is eager to see her attacker captured. "I want him to get caught because I want to smack him," she told the Post.

Her assailant was described by police as white, clean-shaven, about 5 feet, 8 inches tall, with a thin build. He sports tattoos of rings on his fingers. Critelli added her own description to the Post, saying the man "looked pretty dirty."

Asked why she had attempted to stop the robber, she told New York's WABC channel: "I didn't think of anything.

"The only thing I thought of was saving the money, which was foolish, right?"

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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