Off-duty cops foil bag-snatch in Lower Mills

A pair of off-duty police officers on line for a Saturday morning buzz cut in Lower Mills Village lept into service to protect an elderly woman from a street robbery earlier this month. Their swift action not only prevented a likely bag-snatching, but led to the arrest of a 19 year-old Mattapan man who elected to go toe-to-toe with one of the cops.

Jay Broderick, a 15-year veteran of the Boston Police, and Chris Bulger, a Dorchester native who works as a policeman at Harvard University, were waiting for their turn in the chairs at Aedan's Barber Shop on Dorchester Avenue on April 5 when the drama unfolded. As the two chatted in the crowded shop's window, Broderick, a lifelong Dorchester resident, says he noticed two young men acting suspiciously, pacing the sidewalks and - seemingly - scoping out other pedestrians.

"They were being a little loud, rambunctious," said Broderick. "But it was how they kept watching people."

Broderick then spied as the two, now perched in the doorway of another barber shop across the street, began to follow an elderly woman as she passed them. According to Broderick, one of the two men started to jog towards the woman and made an attempt to lunge for her handbag.

Bulger and Broderick quickly consulted - and even though his two young sons were also with him in the store - Broderick said they both just felt, "Enough is enough."

"This woman was just terrified," says Broderick, who added that the would-be victim yanked her bag away from the grasp of the young man.

Broderick - unarmed in jeans and a sweatshirt - drew his police badge and, together with Bulger, ran across the avenue to the scene.

"One of the guys, he complied quickly. The other one, he raised his hands like a boxer and got real combative with (Bulger)," recalled Broderick. As one of the barbers from Aedean's came out to help, Broderick turned his attention to the less cooperative suspect, who soon took flight from the scene. Broderick gave chase and, in the doorway of a nearby storefront, the two were soon in the throes of a "physical struggle."

"He took a swing at me," says Broderick. "It got a bit hairy there for a few minutes."

Broderick ended up subduing the 19 year-old Old Morton Street man - who was later charged with assault and battery on a police officer - and within seconds Broderick and Bulger were reinforced by "the troops" from District C-11 who were called to the scene by witnesses in the village. A second man, who turned out to be the brother of Broderick's assailant, was not arrested.

Broderick said he was proud of how others in the village - patrons at the barber shop and other merchants - also came out to assist.

"It was the old Dorchester," Broderick said. "It was good to see."