Mother, children robbed in Walmart parking lot

A mother was robbed in the parking lot of the Walmart on Pendleton Pike.
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LAWRENCE, Ind. (WTHR) - A Lawrence mother and her family are counting their blessings after coming under attack in a department store parking lot.

The family left the Walmart on Pendleton Pike just before midnight Wednesday. They parked away from the main entrance, which made them an easy target. Unfortunately, it's not the first time mom's been in the same kind of danger.

"I started screaming," said Patricia Avila-Diaz.

The young mother and her children are still shaken up from the surprise attack by a robber. She and her family, including her mother, were loading their groceries into the car when Patricia came under attack for her purse by a man she described to police.

"He was tall with a handkerchief in the middle of the face over the nose and then he just grabbed...my mom was next to me. He just grabbed my bag and I started screaming," she said.

Patricia reacted on instinct by trying to hold onto her purse. What makes looking back at what happened even more frightening is the fact that the man who robbed Patricia was carrying a weapon the entire time. It's something the Lawrence resident learned about from her family after the robbery.

"What I didn't realize is that he had a gun. My mom said she saw one," Patricia said.

All three children and her mother watched as Patricia struggled to keep her purse. Her eldest son Eli told police how the robber got away.

"She screamed and went running after him, but the man got in the car and the other man driving just took off," said Eli Santana.

Patricia lost her purse with their important documents, credit cards and her cell phones along with a small amount of cash. They managed to block her credit cards from being used by the thieves.

What's worse, this is the third time Patricia has been robbed at gunpoint. Now she's warning others and sharing how her faith keeps her going.

"The reason I overcame that is because I was going to church and praying a lot and that helped me a lot," Patricia said.

Patricia is already awaiting a court date for the man who robbed her at gunpoint in a previous case. She was able to pick out that suspect in a police photo lineup. She hopes that others will learn how to stay safe after learning about what happened to her not just one or twice now, but three times.

"You have to be very careful, because you never know," Patricia said.

If you have any information that could help in this case, call Crime Stoppers at 317-262-TIPS.