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82-year-old woman fights pair trying to steal her car

Robbers in the midst of a Sunday afternoon crime spree of guns and violence and drugs sure picked the wrong house in Rock Hill to look for a getaway car.

Alice Linn, 82, a great-granny and widow, was having none of anybody busting into her house. And demand her car? Forget it.

This heroic woman drove mules through red clay in the Depression.

"I felt strength come in my arms," Linn said Monday of finding, somewhere, the toughness and resolve to fight off a man far taller, far heavier, far younger - and far stronger.

Alice Linn had one thing the criminal did not have - guts.

This is a woman whose late uncle generations ago was sheriff of York County, a woman who shows strangers pictures of her great-grandchildren. At least she did until criminals came knocking at the door and assaulted her.

Linn's car eventually was stolen Sunday by a pair of people police say robbed a pharmacy and shot at a cop then later fled before being captured.

But not before this woman - who proudly says, "I am not to be called elderly for the public!" - fought back and pushed back and yelled like a London air-raid siren during World War II.

"I fought him off," said Linn.

At around 1 p.m. Sunday, Linn had just finished her lunch and sat down to watch some old movies on TV when she heard a rap at the door.

"Just a lazy Sunday until that knock at the door," Linn said.

Her little Lhasa Apso dog, Dahli - "you say it like the Dalai Lama" - is 12 years old itself. Dahli barked at the knock, and Linn walked to the locked storm door to find a guy there.

The guy, according to the police report, was around 6 feet tall, 224 pounds.

"'I need to use your phone,' he told me," Linn recalled. "I went to get the cordless phone, opened the door, and he jerked it open and pushed me inside, backwards. He demanded the car keys."

But Linn fought back.

Across the room was Linn's purse and keys, the keys in sight on a chair, she said. But she was not giving away the keys to some brute who had forced his way into her house.

Then she was being tugged outside, trying to get free, as this guy pulled her outside and the guy motioned to a woman to help him, Linn said. The woman was next to Linn's car, a 2008 Honda Civic she drives to her Episcopal church on Sundays and a few other places.

"She grabbed at me and I pushed at her, too, and I started to scream as loud as I could," Linn said.

Alice Linn on Monday did not demonstrate her scream of Sunday. But judging by her toughness, it was not demure.

The man went inside and grabbed the keys off the chair and came back outside and told her, "If you don't go back inside, I'm going to hurt you bad," Linn recalled.

The duo stole the car and took off around the tiny street Linn lives on, and Linn continued to yell. A pair of police cars came rushing up quickly and Linn started yelling: "He's stealing my car!" The police followed after the escaping car.

More police immediately showed up - a bunch of them, Linn said - to make sure she was all right. A police officer showed her a picture of the holdup at the pharmacy.

Here was the same guy, police told her, gun in hand, pointing it and demanding drugs. And he had shot at a cop.

That's when Alice Linn found out that she had fought back against a guy who had been armed with a gun and allegedly had shot bullets at an officer before coming to her door. The Food Lion plaza is right over the fence from where Linn lives.

The man and woman involved were later caught after a chase, miles away. Linn's stolen car was recovered.

Her peace of mind is not yet recovered.

"I'm still shaking," Linn said a day after it was over.

But this lady is tough. She grew up one of nine children in the Pleasant Valley community east of Fort Mill, where her family raised corn, cotton and watermelons, cows and pigs.

"I never knew we were poor because everybody was the same," she said.

Linn later worked as a telephone operator and then in shipping at Piedmont Medical Center. Linn was raised to be helpful and said she has tried to be nice all her life.

A knock came at the door with a person seemingly in need, and she answered it. For that, she was assaulted and had her car stolen and a bit of belief in humanity went with it.

"I won't be opening my door to any more strangers," Linn said.

Nobody was shot at the pharmacy, and the officer was not hit by gunfire in the store parking lot. Linn was not shot as her house was broken into and her safety stolen and her car stolen, too.

The two suspects face a laundry list of charges, including attempted murder of the policeman and armed robbery of the pharmacy. Not to mention burglary, assault and grand larceny for what happened at Alice Linn's home.

As for the police, Linn called the officers "nice and attentive," and all took good care of her.

A supervisor even showed up to check on her as a crowd of neighbors and onlookers had gathered outside her door after the incident. Dahli started to bark at the police officer.

"I told her, 'Dahli, he's one of the good guys,'" Linn said.

The cops sure were the good guys Sunday. But nobody was better than Alice Linn.

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