Gold Star mother Elsie Cadorette was on her way to put flowers on the graves of her son, killed in Vietnam, and her husband, a World War II veteran, when she was robbed in the parking lot of Stop & Shop on Belmont Street in Brockton.
Gold Star mother Elsie Cadorette sat inside her car in a Belmont Street parking lot reviewing her grocery receipt shortly after worshipping at Our Lady of Lourdes Church.
She was on her way to Melrose Cemetery to place flowers on the graves of her son, Marine Sgt. Michael J. Cadorette, who was killed in action in Vietnam on Dec. 7, 1968, and her husband, Robert Cadorette, a World War II veteran.
Suddenly, a man yanked open the passenger door to her car and grabbed Cadorette’s purse, she said.
“I thought, ‘Oh, I’m going to be hijacked,’” Cadorette, 83, recalled at her Brockton home Wednesday.
“That was my first thought. He grabbed my pocketbook. I grabbed it, too, but the handle broke off in my hand, and he went running.”
Now, a Canton man and a Stoughton woman are facing charges in the robbery, which occurred shortly after noon Sunday in the parking lot of the Stop & Shop supermarket on Belmont Street, police said. Store surveillance cameras captured the entire robbery on video.
The robber looked familiar to Cadorette, who had let the man and his female companion go ahead of her in the supermarket line minutes earlier. The pair had been trying to cash a check at the supermarket, and had fewer items to check out than she did, Cadorette said.
“I told him to go in front of me, which he did,” she said of the suspect.
Police said the two suspects had earlier tried to pass two forged checks at the supermarket. The checks were later recovered by police at the courtesy desk.
Surveillance video shows the suspects going out to the parking lot, where they were watching the woman, Lt. John Crowley, chief of detectives, said Wednesday.
“They stand one car over and they watched her load her groceries and get into her vehicle,” Crowley said. “Once the victim was in her vehicle, they walked over, (the man) pulled open the door and grabbed her purse.”
Inside her purse, Cadorette said, she had “a $10 bill and a $5 bill. That’s all, and a bunch of change.”
After she was robbed, Cadorette went inside the supermarket to the courtesy desk. One employee ran outside to try to chase the robber, while another called police. Emergency workers arrived and tried to comfort Cadorette.
“In came the firemen,” she said. “Of course, they’re all worried. ‘Was I alright?’ I can’t say enough of everybody.”
Outside, police had located two suspects hiding in a backyard on Dennis Avenue, behind the supermarket, Crowley said.
On the ground near the suspects were the victim’s wallet, driver’s license and Stop & Shop card, he said.
The suspects saw the officers and attempted to flee. Police caught and arrested Bianca McDonald, while additional officers set up a perimeter around the area.
Police received a 911 call that came from suspect Benjamin Burnett’s cell phone, Crowley said. To try to divert officers from the scene, Burnett told police during the 911 call, falsely, that a police officer had been shot at a traffic stop and needed assistance, he said.
“Brockton dispatch was able to ascertain that this was a false call made by the suspect in an attempt to get police to leave the area,” Crowley said.
Minutes later, Officer James Baroud saw Burnett, and a foot chase ensued on Dennis Avenue. A neighborhood resident tackled Burnett until officers arrived, Crowley said.
In Burnett’s pocket was the cell phone used to make the false 911 call to police minutes earlier, he said.
While trying to avoid police, Burnett had also kicked in a door at a Dennis Avenue home, hid in the basement, took off his pants and shirt, then left them behind in the house, Crowley said.
The clothes left at that house matched the clothes worn by the male suspect in the surveillance video, Crowley said.
Burnett, 29, of 1E Newell Hagen Court, Canton, was charged with unarmed robbery of a victim over 60, larceny from a person, breaking and entering a vehicle daytime felony, breaking and entering a residence, resisting arrest, witness intimidation and misleading report and disorderly disturbance.
Bianca McDonald, 20, of 122 Water St., Stoughton, was charged with unarmed robbery from a victim over 60, larceny from a person, and breaking and entering daytime felony.
Both Burnett and McDonald were arraigned Monday at Brockton District Court, and both have a probable cause hearing scheduled for May 21.
Burnett is being held on $50,000 cash bail at Plymouth County Correctional Facility.
McDonald is being held on $25,000 cash bail at MCI-Framingham.
Meanwhile, a shaken Cadorette said she almost missed her weekly knitting group on Tuesday because of her ordeal, but went at the encouragement of her friend. She’s thankful she got her purse and $15 back, and she praised emergency crews for helping her.
Tuesday morning, Cadorette — a grandmother of 12 and great-grandmother of eight — said she got up at 6 a.m. to bake cookies, which she then took to firefighters at the Fire Station on West Street. Cadorette’s thankful the robbery didn’t take a different turn.
“It could have been much worse,” she said. “(The robber) could have knocked me to the ground.”
Enterprise writer Maria Papadopoulos can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.