Bicyclist arrested in downtown crime spree

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AUSTIN (KXAN) – A bike-riding purse thief that one witness described as looking like “Napoleon Dynamite” assaulted at least three people and jumped into Lady Bird Lake to avoid arrest last Thursday, according to an arrest warrant.

The chain of events began at 12:12 a.m., June 18, when a man riding a bike forcibly stole the purse of a woman walking near North Lamar Boulevard and Sixth Street. The suspect was described as a white man wearing a grey hoodie, according to the affidavit.

Police later identified the purse thief as Stephen Newberry, 25.

An Uber driver nearby the initial purse-snatching incident saw Newberry fleeing on his bike and being chased by another man identified as Lampe. The Uber driver offered to give Lampe a lift and help chase Newberry, the affidavit states.

Lampe jumped into the bed of the Uber driver’s pickup truck, and they followed the suspect. Lampe then confronted Newberry at the 700 block of West Third Street. The two men fought and Newberry hit Lampe in the knee with a fist-sized rock, according to the affidavit.

Lampe told police he was the purse-snatching victim’s friend and he wrestled the woman’s purse back from Newberry, and he called 911 from several blocks away, according the affidavit.

At 12:20 a.m., a separate driver for Lyft-another ride-sharing service-at Sixth Street and Lamar Boulevard said a man riding a bicycle pulled up next to his car, looked at him in anger. The man then threw a large rock through the Lyft driver’s windshield, according to the affidavit.

Minutes later, at 12:23 a.m., a woman walking less than half a mile away said a man riding a bicycle approached her and assaulted her while trying to steal her purse. A couple driving by witnessed the assault and told police the man looked like “Napoleon Dynamite.” The witnesses later identified the suspect as Newberry with “60 percent certainty” in a sequential lineup, police said.

Less than a quarter mile away, at 12:39 a.m., a police officer allegedly saw Newberry jumping on the trunk of a car near the intersection of San Antonio Street and Cesar Chavez Street. The officer attempted to arrest Newberry, but the suspect fled and jumped into Lady Bird Lake to avoid arrest. Authorities had to use a boat to rescue Newberry from the lake.

About 22 Austin Police officers were searching the area for Newberry during the alleged crime spree, according to the affidavit.

Newberry is currently in the Travis County Jail charged with robbery by assault, a second-degree felony, and aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon, a first-degree felony.

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