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Marine comes to aid in purse-snatching

An intrepid US Marine from California chased and tackled an alleged purse-snatcher in Boston’s Chinatown neighborhood Tuesday night, then held the suspect until police arrived, Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley’s office said.

A statement from Conley’s office said Demetrick Nealy, 26, of Roslindale grabbed a 41-year-old woman’s purse from behind as she walked down Beach Street at about 7:30 p.m.

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A Boston police report said the woman told officers that she “ran after [Nealy] yelling that her purse had been stolen.”

She was heard by the Marine, a 23-year-old lieutenant from Corona, Calif., who chased Nealy for about four blocks and tackled him on Stuart Street, said Conley’s office and police.

“This young man saw what was happening and sprinted into action,” Conley said in a statement.

Two state troopers in plain clothes, who witnessed part of the chase, were the first on scene at 37 Stuart St. and found the Marine, who authorities did not identify because he is a witness in the case, holding down Nealy.

The woman, who also was not named, told police later that all the contents of her purse were still inside. She did complain of soreness from being shoved but declined medical attention, Conley’s office said.

Police wrote in the report that the Marine said Nealy “had his hand inside the purse while he was running away fishing through it.”

Nealy threw the purse just before the Marine tackled him, police said of the lieutenant’s account. The woman recovered her purse on the ground, police said.

Captain Eric D. Flanagan, a spokesman for the US Marine Corps, said Wednesday night that the military could not yet confirm the circumstances of the incident. But he attested to the capability of Marines.

“To operate and succeed in volatile and complex environments, Marines must be physically fit, morally strong, and possess the intelligence required to make good decisions and operate advanced weapon systems,” Flanagan said. “If true, this action is a testament to what Marines are capable of under abrupt and unexpected circumstances.”

A not-guilty plea was entered on Nealy’s behalf at his arraignment Wednesday in Boston Municipal Court on a charge of unarmed robbery. Judge Mark Hart Summerville ordered Nealy held on $5,000 cash bail, Conley’s office said.

Nealy is due back in court on April 11. His lawyer at arraignment, Timothy Nolan, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Conley said the alleged victim “was lucky to have a Good Samaritan looking out for her, but even luckier that he was a Marine.”

Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.
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