Don’t Mess with Caroline’s Power
West Ender Chased Would-Be Thief Until Bystanders Grabbed, Cuffed Him

July 24th, 2013

photo-8-news-caroline-web Caroline Power says the man who tried to steal her tote bag off her shoulder July 7 “picked the worst person” to rob.

“I’m a pretty confrontational person,” she said. “My nickname growing up in school was ‘Freakishly Strong.’”

Caroline’s mother, Tricia Rolston Power, says that came from hauling 50-lb. feedbags around their Louisiana horse farm when she was six. “No wonder the little devil grew up tough.”

Caroline became an overnight legend  after a video from a security cam of her chasing the alleged thief through the street  – barefoot and clutching the neckline of her black dress to prevent a wardrobe malfunction – was posted on Facebook.

Caroline, 25, has lived on Roatan off and on about six years. She said she left her home in Half Moon Bay about 7 p.m. Sunday, July 7, to get something to eat. She headed toward the Cafe Escondido. Along the way she saw her boyfriend, Nicholas Bach, at the Sundowners Bar, near the roundabout, and stopped in to tell him where she was going and to meet her later.

As she passed the Baptist Church on West End Road, she said, she saw a “nice looking, well dressed Spanish kid,” slightly built, in his early 20s and a bit shorter than her 5’ 9”, walking straight toward her. The evening church crowd had not yet arrived, and the street was fairly deserted.

“I didn’t think anything of it,” she said. But then she said he bumped into her and knocked her to the ground.

“He knocked me down to one knee, and at the same time I felt his hands on my purse trying to rip my purse off my shoulder,” Caroline said. “There wasn’t much in there,” just her keys and about $30 in cash, she recalled. But she wasn’t going to let him have it.

Caroline said she hooked the pink cloth totebag in the crook of her elbow, “then I hit him with my elbow.” She’s not sure where the blow landed, but “it felt hard,” like bone.

“It kind of took him by surprise,” she said. “He took a few steps back.” Then she said the man, “shaken,” ran through the church parking lot to the beach and started running toward the roundabout.

“I started chasing him down the road, because I figured it’s much quicker to run down the road,” she said. “I chased him the whole way down, screaming at him” in English and Spanish. She screamed “mostly not printable stuff,” she said, “but I was also screaming at him that he’d picked the worst person.” She also screamed at bystanders to stop him.

Caroline said the suspect returned to the pavement just in front of the roundabout. “I guess he was trying to make the exit, but I was going to cut him off,” she said. When he saw her still running after him, she said, he ran down the road in front of Sundowners. Then, she said, rather than escape into the darkness down Half Moon Bay Road or into El Barrinche, he “looped around” back to the beach and  ran back in the direction of Sundowners.

Caroline said she ran into Sundowners,  where Nic Bach and friends were still drinking, and said “That guy tried to steal my purse,” pointing to the suspect just then passing behind the bar on the beach. Bach then joined the pursuit.

“We chased him maybe about 10 feet,” Caroline said, before he ran straight into an island native and personal trainer named Gilberto, who was walking in the opposite direction. Caroline said Gilberto and two other island men who had seen her running by earlier subdued the suspect and brought him back to Sundowners, where he was handcuffed and turned over to police, who arrived a few minutes later.

Caroline went to the police station in Coxen Hole the next morning to file a complaint and identify the suspect, who she said effectively admitted to the crime. An attorney following the case said Oscar Gonzalez was charged with assault and attempted robbery and was brought before a judge July 12. At press time the suspect was still in lock-up at Coxen Hole.

Though frustrated with the process, Caroline said “the fact that he was in jail for a week (at time of interview) … even if he told two other people in the jail that he got caught stealing from someone in West End, even if it makes people think twice … I’d do the same thing again.”

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