Two men suffered minor injuries when they were struck by a U-Haul truck whose driver was allegedly trying to steal a purse Thursday night in North Philadelphia, police said.
Around 6:30 p.m., the U-Haul truck struck the two men, ages 26 and 62, outside the Independence Bar at the corner of Front Street and Cecil B. Moore Avenue, police said. The older man was seated at a picnic table being used for outdoor dining, said Chief Inspector Scott Small. The younger man was seated on a motorcycle. Both were treated by medics at the scene for minor injuries.
The 43-year-old driver, later identified as Benigno Melendez, allegedly had reached out from inside the U-Haul and grabbed a purse from a 35-year-old woman who was seated in the dining area, police said.
Melendez, of Northeast Philadelphia, then tried to flee and struck the two men and about 10 feet of fencing set up for the dining area, Small said.
The U-Haul was spotted by a police helicopter on the 200 block of Birch Street. The truck hit a few police vehicles and nearly struck some officers, Small said. Melendez allegedly resisted arrest and was shot several times with a Taser.
Melendez was transported to Episcopal Hospital. He was charged with theft and unlawful taking, police said Friday.
A male passenger in the U-Haul also was taken into custody.
Police found the woman’s purse inside the truck and it was returned to her, Small said.