HOUSTON — Two people have been arrested after a woman was followed from the bank last month and then body slammed as a man tried to get away with her money, according to Houston police.
Joseph Harrell, 17, and Zy'Nika Ayesha Woods, 19, have both been charged with aggravated robbery with serious bodily injury, Detective Tyrus Fontenot with the Houston Police Department announced Friday. Woods faces another charge of aggravated assault on a separate case, he said.
The day before Valentine's Day Nhung Truong went to a Bank of America to get some cash for a trip she was planning on taking. After leaving the bank, she made her way to a shopping center on Bellaire Boulevard just inside Beltway 8 where she was allegedly followed by Harrell and Woods.
Fontenot said Truong was walking in front of the shopping center when Harrell got out of a car that Woods was driving and tussled with Troung for her purse.
After all of her belongings fell to the ground, Fontenot said Harrell picked up what he thought was the money and started running away, but when he realized he didn't have the money, he went back to Troung, picked her up and slammed her to the ground.
He then picked up the envelope with the money and ran back to the getaway car that Woods was driving, Fontenot said.
The entire incident was caught on a surveillance camera.
"In fact when I saw it, it just made me mad as hell," said Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner.
Troung suffered serious injuries from the body slam. Fontenot said she was even unconscious for a while before being taken to the hospital.
Fontenot said the minute the Houston Police Department was notified about what happened, detectives immediately started investigating. Detectives were able to find surveillance video, which Fontenot said was key to solving this crime.
What led to the arrests
With the help of surveillance cameras, police were able to get the license plate of Harrell and Woods' vehicle and later learned Woods was the driver.
Fontenot said she matched the description of the woman seen in the surveillance videos.
She was eventually detained for a traffic violation and interviewed by investigators. Fontenot said she confessed to taking part in the robbery and confessed to Harrell being involved as well.
After confirming Harrell was the other person involved in the robbery, investigators said they later found him and arrested him for a warrant on a separate aggravated assault case. He was interviewed and also confessed to taking part in the robbery, Fontenot said.
Harrell and Woods were both arrested and charged with aggravated robbery with serious bodily injury.
Watch the latest update from HPD in the video below:
Long road to recovery
Truong, 44, is a mother of three from Vietnam.
She was hurt so badly during the robbery that she couldn't feel her left leg nearly a month later. To this day, she still can't walk.
"They don't know when my leg can walk again," Truong said through her daughter.
Truong is in a wheelchair now and can't go to the bathroom on her own. She's in rehab hoping to walk again.
“I just need to practice, try to walk and stuff," Truong said. "I’m very sad that this happened to me and I just want to let people know to be careful.”
Troung is relieved the suspects have been caught and hope they can change for the better, but she also fears retaliation if they were let out of jail.
Truong's family has set up a GoFundMe to help pay for her medical expenses.