UPDATE 11/29/13 @ 11:15 p.m.
CROSS LANES, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- On Thanksgiving Day, the Kroger in Cross Lanes was bustling with shoppers.
Many, including Christopher Lawrence, were getting the finishing touches to their turkey dinner.
"We were just picking up last-minute items," Lawrence said.
However, this hot spot quickly turned into a hot bed for criminal activity.
"Behind me I heard this lady scream for help, or like, 'Hey, bring that back,' " Lawrence recalled.
That lady was screaming because her purse was in the hands of a stranger. In a flash, police say Richard Palmer of Nitro swiped the handbag as she was putting away her groceries.
However, even with just one bag, Palmer's getaway wasn't through the express lane. As a 20-year army veteran, serving two tours in Afghanistan, Lawrence's soldier instinct kicked in as he and others quickly started pursuit.
While none of the individuals knew each other, they raced down city streets and across packed parking lots.
"It just happened on the fly. It was kind of like we were communicating," Lawrence described his contact with another chaser, "but he knew exactly what to do and I knew what to do and we just got it done."
Eventually, the thief circled back, and that's where his run came to an end.
"Chased him around the back of Tim Hortons and I went the other way and we met in the middle and the other fellow veteran tackled him first and I got there second and we just held him there till the cops came," said Lawrence.
For Lawrence, it was the chance to protect his community, but also provide a lesson that anyone can make a difference if they're not afraid to act.
"If you pitch together and not just let things happen, it can be a safer place and a better place to live," Lawrence said.
It happened about 2 p.m. Thursday at Kroger in Cross Lanes.
Kanawha County sheriff's deputies tell wsaz.com that Richard Palmer, 28, from Nitro, stole the woman's purse and then ran away.
That is until two men saw the chase and stopped him. Deputies say the men were sitting in traffic, got out of their vehicle and started chasing the man.
An employee at the store also started chasing Palmer and recovered the woman's purse when he dropped it.
The two men were able to catch Palmer and hold him until deputies arrived on scene.
Palmer is charged with grand larceny.