The man suspected of knocking down a 93-year-old woman and breaking her hip while stealing her purse in Concord expressed remorse for his behavior Thursday during a jailhouse interview with NBC Bay Area.
Otto Halafihi of Oakland, 29, turned himself in to police in Patterson just after 9 p.m. Wednesday and was arrested by Concord police on charges of robbery and elder abuse, police said. He is in custody at Contra Costa County jail in Martinez.
When asked why he committed the purse snatching, initially, Halafihi says he was hungry and thirsty and needed gas.
"I'm very sorry; I wish I could rewind back the days," Halafihi said from jail. "I don't know why I did it, I just wasn't in my right mind state."
Ann Pederson was hospitalized with a broken hip after Halafihi knocked her to the ground on May 18 while stealing her purse outside a Bank of America near Sunvalley mall in Concord, according to police.
Halafihi was also found to be linked to a May 9 armed robbery at Lowe's Home Improvement store at Pacific Commons Boulevard in Fremont, police said.
Police said the robbery suspect threatened to shoot store employees with a black semi-automatic handgun before picking up items he had been carrying and exiting the store.
Halafihi denied that he was armed in that incident. But he later admitted to stealing a purse from a woman in San Jose.
When asked whether he's willing to pay the price for his crimes, he said, "Yes."
The May 18 pursde snatching occurred in broad daylight as Pedersen was being escorted by a 63-year-old friend towards the bank.
Pederson's son Greg reacted Thursday to the interview with Halafihi.
“I hope they throw the book at him. Confessions and apologies, those are just words," he said, adding that it's not forgivable behavior. "The actions speak volumes. His actions were to rob a frail and elderly woman in broad daylight. Words are just words. I don’t buy it. What he did has lasting effects. He’s only saying this because he got caught.”
Police said Halafihi made the mistake of going inside the bank, where there are several surveillance cameras.
Pedersen is a 45-year resident of Concord, according to her son. She remained hospitalized after surgery for her broken hip. Her escort was uninjured.