Woman, 80, lobs mangoes and apples to oust robbers from New Bedford store

Mangoes are often used in refreshing smoothies or sweet salsas. On Friday, an 80-year-old woman found an inventive new use for the fruit: burglar repellent.

Otilia Martins hurled a few mangoes and a bag of apples at a man who fixed his revolver on a clerk in a New Bedford store, said Manny Nogueira, Martins’ son-in-law and the owner of Continental Market.

“She looked in her pocketbook for something to throw at the guy,’’ Nogueira said. “She didn’t find anything, but the fruit was right next to her, so she used that.’’

Around 1:30 p.m., Jesse Dossantos, 32, and Eduardo Torres-Lopez, 22, allegedly entered the store on Sawyer Street and ordered the clerk to empty the cash register, said New Bedford Police Officer Charles Perry. One of the men pointed a revolver at the clerk, Perry said. The clerk screamed, prompting Martins to lob the fruit.


As the gunman started to flee, Martins grabbed the back of his sweater to prevent him from leaving before police arrived. The man hit her in the back of her head with his firearm before the men left the store with about $400 or $500, said Nogueira, of Dartmouth.

Martins was “bleeding a lot’’ and was checked out by paramedics, Nogueira said, but she refused hospital care and cleaned up at home with a head wash and peroxide. She was in the store Friday to pick up a few things and to chat, Nogueira said.

Nogueira was working outside the store when the robbery occurred. Unaware that one of the men had a gun, he gave chase when they ran from the store, he said. He caught one of the men two blocks away. The man with the gun fled into a nearby apartment on Belleville Avenue.

Police recovered the gun and arrested Dossantos and Torres-Lopez, both of New Bedford, Perry said. They will be charged with armed robbery and illegal possession of a firearm, Perry said.

“It could have turned out a lot worse,’’ Nogueira said.

Over his 30 years of owning Continental Market, Nogueira said he has been robbed eight or nine other times.


The New Bedford Standard-Times first reported the incident Saturday.

Martins was not available to comment Saturday as she was spending a quiet day at home, Nogueira said. She was planning to go to church Sunday and stop by the store to watch surveillance video of the event, he said.

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